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Open Images & Media

About Open Media

This guide recommends sources for open media.  Images, music, videos and other works posted on the internet are protected by copyright, but some creators license their work for others to use.  

When you need to cite media, you should generally include: 

  • Author (or owner of the material)
  • Source (where it can be found; usually a link)
  • License (if there is one; include the name of specific license with a link to that license).

Some licenses may require that you place the citation near the work, while others allow you to group citations together at the end of a work. Some works do not require attribution, although it's often a best practice. Find out more about citation on the Cite and follow terms of use page. 

Questions and Help


Recommended Websites

Open Stock Photography


Websites like Unsplash, Pixabay and Pexels offer high quality, stock photography-type images - and some videos - that do not require attribution and may be used commercially, shared by photographers under a CC0 (public domain) license. 

Open Images & Media

Image by Bodoklecksel, CC BY-SA 3.0

Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons offer a wide variety of images, as well as some videos and audio files, in categories such as Nature, Society & Culture, Science, and Engineering. License terms of use vary. 

Open Icons

The Noun Project is a platform for designers to share thousands of professional-looking icons under a standard Creative Commons license. Attribution is required. 

Open Media Search Engines

Image by Oregon State University, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Creative Commons Search (try the new Beta search) allows you to search across multiple websites for open images, video and music / audio. Websites include Flickr, Wikimedia Commons, Pixabay, and Google Images and Videos. 

Search Google Images and select Tools > Usage rights to find open images with the type of license that fits your requirements. 

To find Creative Commons videos in YouTube that are licensed for modification, enter a search and go to Filters > Features > Creative Commons

Audio files are also available on YouTube through its Content Creator platform YouTube Studio. 


Use of copyrighted works requires permission from the copyright owner unless one of the exceptions in the Copyright Act applies. The Act contains exceptions that might apply, with “Fair Dealing” being an important provision within an educational context. If you want to copy/reuse a work and share it publicly, options include:

  • Using Creative Commons, open licensed and public domain works
  • Creating what is informally known as a 'mash-up,' or "Non-commercial User-generated Content," as defined by the Copyright Act
  • Asking the copyright holder for permission to reuse the work

For more information, email or consult the Ontario Tech Copyright Guide.

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