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Free Digital Media:Important Information

Whilst the web is a mine of images, videos, sounds and more, we need to remember that the huge majority of content online is protected under copyright and we are not allowed to download and repurpose the things we find. A simple Google image search, for example, may provide hundreds of images, but we should not download and use these images unless we know there is a licence attached to the images which permits us to do so. Unless we have used the advanced searching tools to search for images which do allow this use, we must assume they are copyright protected. Even if a licence does permit reuse, we might have to credit the owner of the asset in order to comply with the terms of the licence.

Resources that are genuinely ‘copyright free’ are rare. Somebody has created them and therefore they generally own the copyright. Materials become ‘public domain’ once the creator/author has been dead for a period of time, usually 70 years, though it can vary according to the type of media.

However, you may be licensed under an existing licence you hold to use some digital materials for educational purposes. Many digital publishers have opted in to the Copyright Licencing Association (CLA) schools’ licence, so that if you hold this licence, you may use their materials under the terms of the licence. A list of these publishers can be found here:

See also the links below to the websites where you can find out more about what you can and cannot do, with regards to copyright.

creative commons logoMore and more materials are being licensed under ‘Creative Commons.’ This allows the copyright holder to specify that certain uses are allowed, and these frequently include educational purposes. The copyright holder might specify, for example, that you can use the materials for non-profit making purposes as long as the author is credited. Usually materials that have a creative commons licence include information about the allowed uses and state that the resource has (cc) Some Rights Reserved as opposed to © All Rights Reserved.

For more information, see:

Even when a digital asset is copyright free, it is good form to acknowledge the source.

See also


FREE Images

It is easy to find images through the Google Image search but be aware the majority of images it finds will be under copyright and you are not permitted to download and use them. Also be aware that general search engines can sometime display inappropriate images, even when ‘innocent’ search terms have been used. Therefore when looking for images to use in class you should use a source of royalty-free ‘safe’ images. You should always read the terms and conditions of any site you use for images to make sure your use does not infringe their terms.

Examples of sites that provide royalty-free images for education use are:

FREE Movie Clips

You should always read the terms and conditions of any site you use for movies to make sure your use does not infringe their terms.

FREE Sound & Music Clips

You should always read the terms and conditions of any site you use for sounds to make sure your use does not infringe their terms.

FREE Programs

There is a wide range of free software available to either download and install, or run online through a web browser. The Hertfordshire ICT Team can deliver sessions in your school taking you through dozens of the free programs, web tools and media resources that are being used in schools. Contact Chris Carter for more details at

audacity screenshotSome old favourites include:

Audacity: An open source sound recording and editing program. You can layer your sounds and create simple or complex recordings. Great for podcasting, MFL, music, literacy and more.

LibreOffice: A fully fledged office suite, including word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, drawing program and more.

Irfanview: A tool for simple photo editing and management tasks. Very useful if you have a lot of digital photographs. Crop, rotate, print, rename, convert, effects and much more.

pivotPivot Stick Figure Animator: A great introduction to on-screen stop-motion animation. You can make your own figures or use the stock stick figures, create your animation and save the finished work as an animated .gif file.