There are a growing number of websites on which you can search for openly licensed images and videos, by using filters for Creative Commons licences. In this section, you have the opportunity to:

  • Develop hands-on skills searching selected web-sites to find examples of images and videos using open licences
  • Familiarise yourself with sites that provide filters for content using Creative Commons licences

The list provided on this page does not include every relevant web-site. The core skill for teachers is to learn, when visiting sites, how to look for functionality that provides filters for Creative Commons content. If you find sites that don’t provide this functionality, it is unlikely that your search for openly licensed content will be successful.

The Australasian swamp-hen

The Australasian swamp-hen (Porphyrio melanotus), the image displayed on the top of this page, is a species of swamp-hen (or swamphen) living in the Pacific region including for example, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, and a number of other Pacific Islands.

In New Zealand it’s known as the ‘Pukeko’, which can be used as an alternative search term.

In the following short activities, you’ll search for ‘Swamphen’ images or videos that have open licences:

Activity 1 Using Flickr
Activity 2 Using CC Search
Activity 3 Using YouTube

Using Flickr

Flickr is an image hosting service that is popular with amateur and professional photographers. Flickr supports search capabilities for images tagged with Creative Commons licences.


Activity 1

Purpose: To gain experience using the ‘Any licence’ filter on Flickr to find CC licensed images.

  1. Go to: https://www.flickr.com/
  2. Search (all images):
    • In the search bar, type ‘Australasian Swamphen’, press ‘Enter’ – scan the results
    • In the search bar, type ‘Pukeko’, press ‘Enter’ – scan the results. Do you notice any differences?
    • Click on an image you find interesting. Can you identify the copyright licence for the image?
    • These results will show all images for the search term including those which are all rights reserved.
  3. Search (with Creative Commons filter)
    • Search again for ‘Australasian Swamphen’
    • Click on the ‘Any licence’ pull-down filter (at the top of the page) and select an option, for example ‘All creative commons’, ‘Commercial use allowed’, or ‘Modifications allowed’
    • Click on an image you find interesting. Can you identify the Creative Commons licence?
    • Click on the curved share arrow to find the short URL (This is needed for providing attribution links)
    • Click on the download arrow to view size options for downloading the image.

Tip: The following URL will take you directly to a page you can browse or search through with only Creative Commons images: https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons

Using CC Search

CC Search is a service hosted by Creative Commons that brings together search results sourced from a number of websites that host material with Creative Commons licences.


Activity 2

Purpose: To gain experience filtering results provided by the CC Search website.

  1. Go to https://search.creativecommons.org
  2. In the search field, type ‘Swamphen’ and click on the ‘Search’ button. Scan the results.
  3. In the search field, type ‘Australasian Swamphen’ and click on the ‘Search’ button. Do you notice any differences?
  4. Check different filter combination options, and compare results. For example:
    • Use: That is, ‘Use commercially’ and/or ‘Modify or Adapt’
    • Different Public Domain and CC licence options.
  5. Click on an image result you find interesting. Go to the source website and see if you can verify the licence image.

Using YouTube

YouTube is a video sharing site owned by Google. YouTube hosts videos searchable by two licence types:

  1. A custom all-rights-reserved, standard YouTube licence, and
  2. Videos published under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence.

YouTube videos published under the standard YouTube licence do not qualify as OER and cannot legally be downloaded for re-use off-line. However, there is a growing inventory of OER, CC-BY licensed videos on the site.


Activity 3

Purpose: To gain experience using the ‘Filter’ –> ‘Creative Commons’ option on YouTube.

  1. Go to https://www.youtube.com/
  2. In the search bar, type ‘Australasian swamphen’ and ‘Enter’ – scroll down through the results.
  3. Go back to the top of the page and click on the ‘Filters’ link. Under ‘Features’, select ‘Creative Commons’
  4. The results will show all the videos labelled with a Creative Commons licence.
  5. Click on a video you find interesting. In the description that appears below the video, click on the ‘Show more’ link to verify the Licence. It should read: “Creative Commons Attribution licence (re-use allowed)”