For photo editors, artists, filmmakers: more than 80,000 free media clips

Pond5 announced today its Public Domain Project, where 80,000 media clips are organized and available to the public, royalty-free. The initial collection includes 10,000 video clips, 65,000 photos, thousands of sound recordings, and hundreds of 3D models.

AP Photo/File
This still image from the 1902 silent film "Le Voyage Dans La Lune," written and directed by Georges Méliès, is one of the copyright-free works now easily accessible in the Public Domain Project.

For filmmakers, photographers, and artists, navigating copyright law can be a logistical nightmare. Now, thanks to the Public Domain Project from online video marketplace Pond5, about 80,000 media clips will be available online, copyright-free.

Pond5 launched the Public Domain Project to assist creatives in their search for free content by extensively organizing collections and creating a more efficient system for locating content needs. The initial collection includes 10,000 video clips, 65,000 photos, thousands of sound recordings, and hundreds of 3D models, according to a press release from the company. This is the first public domain library of its kind.

"For years, all of this amazing public domain content has been locked up and inaccessible to the average media maker," said Pond5 cofounder and CEO Tom Bennett. "They deserve better. Our Public Domain Project empowers media makers to take advantage of this incredibly rich library that's rightfully theirs."

Works that are without copyright, like Shakespeare's plays, Mozart's symphonies, or works produced by the US government, are in the public domain, require no license, and are free to use. Works become part of the public domain once their copyright has expired, if the creator labels them so, or if they are not copyrightable to begin with (i.e. government documents, facts, etc.). These works are an important resource to creatives, as they enable users to utilize footage and materials to remix, supplement, or create new art. Traditionally, finding these public domain works is the most difficult part.

The website contains not only an artist’s treasure trove, but also a historian’s goldmine. The project includes digital models, political speeches by Winston Churchill and Marin Luther King, Jr., recordings of Beethoven and other famous composers, Georges Méliès’ 1902 film, A Trip To The Moon. Previously, nearly 5,000 items only existed in their physical form within the National Archives. These never-before-seen clips are now digitized and easily available to the  public, copyright-free.

The project also helps artists navigate public domain by including helpful videos and definitions that let the user know if they are using the works legally. Can you create a spoof and include that historical video clip? Yes. Can you turn a photo of President Barack Obama into an advertisement? No.

The library’s files contain metadata, making it easy for users to search for content based on various aspects of the content’s production, both aesthetic and technical. All of the content is shareable and embeddable in social media and through the web, reported TechCrunch.

Why produce a product that won't "generate any revenue for Pond5," a startup competitor to Shutterstock and Getty Images that made a big splash when Stripes Group and Accel Partners invested $60 million last July?

It surely will pay off, says CEO Bennett, in the form of visibility and customer acquisition. The public domain site, he thinks, will help lure both buyers and sellers of media assets to Pond5, and then, hopefully, they'll come to see Pond5 as a better option than its competitors, according to New York Business Journal. 

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