Web resources for video poem makers

How to crop video in OpenShot video editor:


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:

“Yes, you can!” —Where you don’t even need ‘fair use’
One critical point:

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?

Free and Creative Commons-licensed film and video

Prelinger Archives at archive.org
Over 2000 films in the public domain! Includes home movies, old commercials, Coronet instructional films, and more.
IICADOM (The International Institute for the Conservation, Archiving and Distribution of Other People’s Memories)
More than 1000 orphaned home movies, mostly from Belgium.
Pond5 Public Domain Project
Nearly 10,000 historical film clips, searchable by keyword.
Edison Motion Pictures (Library of Congress)
“This collection features 341 Edison films, including 127 titles also available in other American Memory motion picture groupings. The earliest example is a camera test made in 1891, followed by other tests and a wide variety of actualities and dramas through the year 1918, when Edison’s company ceased film production.”
Community Video at archive.org (Creative Commons licensed works uploaded by their makers)
List of films available under a Creative Commons license
List of Creative Commons licensed video media
List of films in the public domain in the United States
Videos at Wikimedia Commons
Some of the (generally high-quality) videos on the site are Creative Commons-licensed. To find them, switch to the new version of Vimeo (as of Feb. 2012), perform a search and filter by specific license. Also, check out the Free HD stock footage group.
Free, Creative Commons-licensed HD stock video and b-roll footage, uploaded by professional and amateur filmmakers.
HD Stock video footage and motion graphics available for free with attribution (and some of it not even requiring attribution).
Free videos and stock footage uploaded by filmmakers under a CC0 (public domain) license, meaning you don’t even have to give credit.
Beachfront B-Roll
“One of the best places to download (for free!) unique HD stock video footage and animated backgrounds for any production purpose.”
NASA Video Gallery
The go-to site for videos of the earth from space and other cool stuff.
Hubble Space Telescope videos
A little overlap with the NASA site, but an immense archive in its own right: 804 video clips and counting.
National Park Service B-Roll Video
Not just natural scenery, but also historical sites and monuments such as the Statue of Libery and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, all in downloadable .zip files with Flash previews.
U.S. Army videos
Al Jazeera Creative Commons Repository
Naval History Videos from the U.S. Navy
National Marine Sactuaries Media Library
The U.S. National Archives on YouTube
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on YouTube
U.S. Geological Survey on YouTube

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.).
“Your number-one source for completely free animated 2D and 3D background animations, lower thirds and more.”

Free software

VLC media player
“VLC is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVD, Audio CD, VCD, and various streaming protocols.”
Free, open source software for recording and editing sounds.
YouTube Downloader (CNet)
Free (but not open source), easy-to-use software that allows downloading from YouTube and other video sites, as well as conversion from FLV to most major formats.
List of free and open source video-editing software packages (Wikipedia)
30 Video Editing Software And Online Tools (Hongkiat.com)
A few of the free web services and many of the downloadable tools might be useful for making videopoems. If you’ve used any of these, please let us know which were most successful and I’ll be happy to draw attention to them.

Free and Creative Commons-licensed texts and audiopoetry

Audio Books and Poetry at archive.org
“This library of audio books and poetry features digital recordings and MP3’s from the Naropa Poetics Audio Archive, LibriVox, Project Gutenberg, Maria Lectrix, and Internet Archive users.” Pay attention to the CC licenses, though — some specify “No Derivs,” and are therefore free for sharing but not for remixing.
LibriVox: acoustical liberation of books in the public domain
“LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain, and then we release the audio files back onto the net for free. All our audio is in the public domain, so you may use it for whatever purpose you wish.”
Project Gutenberg audio books
Check copyright status in the bibliographic material before using.
American Memory sound recordings at the Library of Congress
24 different collections, including folk music as well as spoken word.
Public Domain Sherpa – Where can you find public domain recordings?
Additional links and tips.

Free and Creative Commons-licensed sounds and music

“The Freesound Project is a collaborative database of Creative Commons licensed sounds. Freesound focusses only on sound, not songs.”
A crowd-sourced library of CC-licensed bird sounds from around the world.
“We provide recordings, sheet music, and textbooks to the public for free, without copyright restrictions. Put simply, our mission is to set music free.” Especially strong on classical music. A free account entitles one to five downloads a day.
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!”
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.
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”).

Filmmaking tutorials

Poetry Filmmaker’s Handbook
From the UK performance-poetry organization Apples and Snakes, this is filled with useful advice and real-world examples.
Richy Carey: Sound Advice
“BAFTA Award winning sound artist Richy Carey offers some thoroughly useful practical advice on recording sound for film poetry.”
Vimeo Video School
Video-based (naturally) instruction from the pros and inspired amateurs at Vimeo. Start with Video 101.

Please let me know of other links I should add to this list, using the comments below.
Share this:



Pingback: New version of Vimeo allows searching by Creative Commons license « Moving Poems Forum
Pingback: Videopoetry: What Is It, Who Makes It, and Why? « Moving Poems Forum
Pingback: Videopoem contest | Via Negativa
Pingback: “We add meaning to culture by remixing it”: Rick Prelinger on the value of preexisting material | Moving Poems Forum
July 23, 2014
Beachfront B-Roll (@Beachfrontprod)

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!!!!!
July 24, 2014
Dave Bonta

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.
August 23, 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.

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲