Web resources for videopoets

Determining what’s free to use

If remixing others’ film, audio or words, obviously the best approach is to get permission from the current copyright holder. Limitations and exemptions to copyright vary from country to country. For material by U.S. citizens, Fair Use doctrine applies. Check out the following two documents from the American University’s Center for Social Media:

Federal government works enjoy no copyright protection whatsoever, whether they are the words of federal government employees or footage taken by camerapeople in civilian or military service. The purpose for which you use the material – as well as the source from which you obtain it, are irrelevant from a copyright perspective.


In answer to a common (but not intellectual property-related) question, documentarians don’t need photo releases from individuals who are filmed in parks, streets or other public places where they have no expectation of privacy. If you single out an individual for special attention, you may a need a release.

  • Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video
    From the introduction:

    Unlike many traditional creator groups, nonprofessional and personal video makers often create and circulate their videos outside the marketplace. Such works, especially if they are circulated within a delimited network, do enjoy certain copyright advantages. Not only are they less likely to attract the attention of rights holders, but if noticed they are more likely to receive special consideration under the fair use doctrine. That said, our goal here is to define the widely accepted contours of fair use that apply with equal force across a range of commercial and noncommercial activities, without regard to how video maker communities’ markets may evolve. Thus, the principles articulated below are rooted squarely in the concept of “transformativeness.”

    In fact, a transformative purpose often underlies an individual creator’s investment of substantial time and creative energy in producing a mashup, a personal video, or other new work. Images and sounds can be building blocks for new meaning, just as quotations of written texts can be. Emerging cultural expression deserves recognition for transformative value as much as more established expression.

  • Creative Commons – About page

    Our tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to keep their copyright while allowing certain uses of their work — a “some rights reserved” approach to copyright — which makes their creative, educational, and scientific content instantly more compatible with the full potential of the internet. The combination of our tools and our users is a vast and growing digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law. We’ve worked with copyright experts around the world to make sure our licenses are legally solid, globally applicable, and responsive to our users’ needs.

  • How do I properly attribute a Creative Commons licensed work?

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Free and Creative Commons-licensed film and video

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Free video effects

  • Footage Crate
    Contains, as the name suggests, a ton of royalty-free footage, much of it in the form of moving transparencies of frequently used effects (blood spatter, fireworks, moving water, etc.).
  • Movietools.info
    “Your number-one source for completely free animated 2D and 3D background animations, lower thirds and more.”

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Free video- and audio-editing software

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Video-editing software available for a low price

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Free and Creative Commons-licensed texts and audiopoetry

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Free and Creative Commons-licensed sounds and music

  • Freesound.org
    “The Freesound Project is a collaborative database of Creative Commons licensed sounds. Freesound focusses only on sound, not songs.”
  • xeno-canto
    A crowd-sourced library of CC-licensed bird sounds from around the world.
  • Musopen.org
    “We provide recordings, sheet music, and textbooks to the public for free, without copyright restrictions. Put simply, our mission is to set music free.”
  • Wikipedia: Soundlist
    “This is an incomplete list of full length copyleft/public domain musical works available on Wikipedia or Wikimedia Commons.”
  • ccMixter Music Discovery
    “dig.ccmixter is where people come to find fantastic, liberally licensed music. The musicians’ community at ccMixter make modern, challenging, but satisfying music that they want you to hear!”
  • Jamendo.com
    All music at Jamendo is Creative Commons-licensed, but much of it is “No Derivatives.” Use the advanced search to search within specific CC licenses.
  • SoundCloud
    A music-sharing site heavily used by musicians and composers in the U.S. and elsewhere. Some of the tracks and samples are Creative Commons-licensed.
  • Free Music Archive
    “An interactive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads … directed by WFMU, the most renowned freeform radio station in America.” Many tracks are CC-licensed for creative reuse (and some are in the public domain).
  • Community Audio at archive.org
    Works uploaded by their makers. Some have Creative Commons licenses (though some of those specify “no derivatives”).

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Filmmaking tutorials

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Please let me know of other links I should add to this list.


  1. Reply

    […] —”Fable,” by Howie Good — read the rest of the guidelines, and explore a new page of helpful links for videopoetry makers, including sources for free and Creative Commons-licensed film and video, spoken word, sounds and […]

  2. Reply

    Please feel free to add http://www.beachfrontbroll.com to your resource list for film and video. I have plenty of video poem makers who use the clips I offer and I LOVE seeing what they can do with them. Thanks for making this helpful list!!!!!

    • Reply
      Dave Bonta 24 July, 2014

      Done. Thanks for the suggestion! I used one of your clips myself two years ago, and I’m pleased to see that you’re continuing to build up the archive.

  3. Reply
    Tobias 23 August, 2015

    Hi, thanks for this great sources. Another good site for free Footage Videos and free images is https://plixs.com they serve all files with public domain license cc0.

  4. Reply
    Stephanie 17 August, 2019

    Hi all in case you need free music archives please check here: https://musicadvisor.com/top-10-high-quality-free-music-archivesfree-music-archive/

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