You may have noticed that I like the music of Page CXVI. First, it’s cool. Their songs have a great feel, and there is enough variety to keep them interesting without getting boring. Second, they often go really well with video, especially since they have made a lot of their music available as instrumental tracks (you may have noticed how I have used their tracks in my films Blindness and Centre). Third, they’ve got some solid lyrics, and I love their reworking of hymns. Fourth, they release their music under a Creative Commons license, such that if you’re making a video that is not for profit or commercial use, they say “go ahead”! They just want to get it out there.
So you can understand how I couldn’t help posting about them again when they announced that this month they are offering ALL their music for FREE DOWNLOAD. To make the most of this, go here. And do make sure to thank them and share this offer with others – they want it spread. How extremely generous is that?!
They’ve also done some nice performance videos for some of their songs. Here’s one:
Like Video and Music, Images come under copyright. But you already knew this right? We’ve known it for centuries – that’s why people got into such big trouble for forging artworks! So, if you’re going to use someone else’s image, you’re going to need their permission. Thankfully this is much more accessible than video and music. There’s a lot out there, and a lot of great stuff. Now at this point you may say “but why do I need these sites when I can just search on Google Images?!” Well, Google Images (and other similar search engines) scan all images they can, providing you with a lot of results. You can look at them (that’s why they’re on the web), but that doesn’t mean that you can use them in your own media (whether in print, powerpoint, or video). You need the copyright owners permission. But with the rise of the digital SLR, lots of sites have been created where people put up their photos because they want you to use them. The professional sites often ask for money for use of these images. But there are also community sites where people share their photos for you to use. So here’s a few of each:
www.istockphoto.com – a huge range of exceptional images that usually aren’t too expensive
www.canstockphoto.com – big range of images for a really affordable price (most about $1)
www.sxc.hu – or ‘Stock Exchange’ – this has been my favourite for a long time. It has a great selection of good photos, and all are free to use. Sometimes people will have restrictions on use, but they are usually small (as in, they want to be notified when you use it, or credited)
www.morguefile.com – similar to Stock Exchange, although I’ve generally found the images are not as good.
www.freeimagefinder.com – a search engine for royalty free photos! Brilliant – although you have to do a lot of trawling to find the right photo that’s also of a reasonable standard.
Bottom line – there’s lots out there. So why not try to be good to those who actually create the images, and use them with permission (so paying those who ask for it, and accepting the grace of those willing to share their images for free). You may well even like to put a credit with the creator and ‘used with permission’ in your powerpoint or video, but this would be more to help others consider how they use images rather than because you need to.
One final major bugbear I have to get off my chest. A number of times I have seen youth group flyers or powerpoint presentations that have an image where you can clearly see a watermark like ‘istockphoto’ across it. They put that on there because they’re saying it is illegal to use that picture unless you buy it! And I don’t see how we so blatantly ignore this and use it anyway. Please restrain yourself, and use something that’s royalty free instead.
Royalty free music is music that the artist has released for people the use any way they want. The idea of being ‘royalty-free’ is that you don’t need to pay any royalty for using it. These usually come at a small cost (you can buy CDs/downloads full of royalty free music), but are also sometimes available for free. My favourite at the moment is www.incompetech.com by Kevin MacLeod. He has a wide variety of tracks which you can download at a high quality, and they are all released under a Creative Commons License. He asks that if you use his stuff then you make a small donation per track used. He also has several links to other good sites of similar musicians producing royalty free music like www.audionautix.com by Jason Shaw.
Another site is www.flashkit.com though sometimes you need to be careful of people who have posted copyrighted material (as you do on vimeo and youtube). Also www.partnersinrhyme.com has some tracks available for free, and lots at a small cost.
Another great way of getting music you can use is by asking a band you know (or who you think might give you permission) if you can use one of their recorded tracks. They may even be able to provide you with the track without vocals if that’s what you need. See Page CXVI for a great band that has made this really simple. If you’re in a band and would offer your music for others to use, feel free to comment and leave a link to your site.
Update 1/6/11: I just got forwarded a link to www.mobygratis.com where Moby (that’s right, the famous musician) has made a whole heap of tracks available for free download and use for non-profit/non-commercial videos/websites/etc. You just need to create a log-in, and then when you find the track you want to use, you request it and are then granted permission to download and use it. What great generosity!
Update 29/9/11: Vimeo have just launched their Music Store vimeo.com/musicstore which is really clear on the licensing, has good quality stuff, and quite a lot of free stuff. It also has some good features for searching and saving tracks that you like without having to download them straight away. I think I’m going to enjoy this!
wingclips – these people have already gone to the distributors in seeking permission to use these clips, so you don’t have to. You do have to sign up (though basic membership is free), and abide by their conditions of use (which is basically agreeing to use them as illustrative material in the church setting).
movieministry – similar to wingclips, with a great range of clips from films that the studios have given permission for free use.
bluefishtv – a site that has compiled a huge number of videos particularly for Christian use. You can search for relevant content. Most videos cost a couple of dollars.
vimeo – the difference vimeo has to youtube is that those who upload videos are generally film makers. If it is available for download, then it usually means that the person is releasing it under a creative commons license (read more about this on vimeo). It means you can show it, and even sometimes use it in your own videos (depending on the type of creative commons license). If it is not available for download, then it means the maker is happy for you to watch it online, but doesn’t want you using it beyond that – so don’t try to rip it off with some other program.
videoblocks – This is a site for downloading royalty free stock footage. You pay for a month’s subscription (about $50) and can download as many video clips as you want. However, they also have a 7 day trial period where you can download clips for free – just make sure that if you don’t want to continue with the site that you unsubscribe before the end of the 7 days or you will be charged. It’s great for getting footage that you would not otherwise be able to take yourself (like super slow-motion or aerial shots).
This group in the US put old hymns to some really cool music. They’ve even released some their tracks as instrumentals (without vocals) which are really cool for using as backing tracks (I used one of their tracks in Blindness). They are released under a Creative Commons License which means they grant you permission to use their music for videos so long as it’s not commercial/not for profit. If you’re in doubt, send them an email. They’d love to hear how you use their music too (this is a good habit to get into – thanking people whose music you use!)