Finding Free Copyright Material for Your Course

Consider what teaching and learning resources are currently available (published texts, online or print journal articles, Internet sites, photographs, charts, graphics, video/audio clips and animations) and how they will be used. By searching for and selecting resources early in the design process, copyrighted resources can be identified and the process of obtaining permission can begin.

Also, choose the multimedia resources that will need to be developed to enhance learning. The instructional designer will collaborate with you to storyboard the content for these multimedia resources.

How to Find Free Copyright Material is a video tutorial about how to find material on the internet that is open for reuse. Former Memorial University Copyright Officer Nancy Simmons describes how to effectively use search tools through Google and the Creative Commons websites to search for different kinds of material based on their rights, whether they are public domain, or have licenses attached that allow users to reuse or even modify the work.

How to Find Free Copyright Material

Please note that, in 2020, Memorial University Libraries assumed responsibility for University-wide copyright support.

How to Find the Source of an Image

Have you already found an image but can’t remember where you got it from, or perhaps forgot to check if it’s open to use at all? Here is a video tutorial called How to Find the Source of an Image, which covers how to search using Google Images in a reverse style search. With this method, you just upload the image to the Google Images website, and Google finds all the sites that use that image, or similar images.

How to Find the Source of an Image

How to Find Copyright-Free or CC Licensed Sites for Resources

The Creative Commons search allows you to search Google, Yahoo, Flickr and other sites for material that is licensed under the Creative Commons — which usually means you can use it without charge in a noncommercial context. To find these materials for reuse you can use the Creative Commons Search. Alternatively, you could explore other repositories of media. Here are some examples.

Free Images

Potentially Free Images


  • Global Learning Objects Brokered Exchange — A community for all those involved or interested in digital, open and innovative education.
  • Google for Education YouTube Channel — Google for Education is about learning for everyone, anywhere.
  • Khan Academy — provides a world-class education for anyone, anywhere.
  • Linney — learning object repository supported by Memorial University that aims to promote an atmosphere of sharing where learning objects can be searched, reused, repurposed, and contributed.
  • Odyssey: VirginiaTech University Libraries — Odyssey is a learning objects repository created and maintained by the University Libraries at Virginia Tech.
  • TedEd — TED-Ed is TED’s youth and education initiative. TED-Ed’s mission is to spark and celebrate the ideas of teachers and students around the world.
  • TedTalks — a non-profit organization devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks.
  • Wisc-Online — digital library of objects has been developed primarily by faculty from the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS).
  • YouTube #Education — a YouTube channel featuring some of YouTube’s most popular educational videos.
  • YouTube Teachers’ Channel — created to help teachers leverage video to educate, engage and inspire their students.

For more media ideas, visit Quality Matters for a comprehensive inventory of sources for visuals, design tools, and accessibility tools and guidelines.


CourseArc. (2021, November). Resources for finding and Creating Visuals for Online Course Design.

Resource created by Vanessa M. & Jane C.

Page last updated on Thursday, February 10, 2022.