All work you can find on the internet is copyrighted to some degree or other. So that means that cool picture you found on someone’s website actually belongs to them, and you can’t just use it. It also means that songs you downloaded from iTunes can’t be used for your professional presentation. And no, Google and Bing are not “safe” either.
So where do you get good quality images, videos and sound recordings for your project? There are tons of places that offer free or very low cost files that you can safely use in your presentation. Back in olden times we would call this clip art, but the inclusion of video and sound files has led to the term of stock, i.e. stock photography, stock illustrations or stock video.
One last caution before we break into the list: royalty free does not mean free to everyone. What it means is that you can purchase the right to use the photograph as many times as you want and in as many places as you want. Items that are not royalty free will charge you for how many times you use the artwork, where you use it (is it on the cover or being used to sell a product), and what medium you use it on (the internet might cost more than your business card, fyi).
This is my short list of free or cheap resources and I hope it will get you started in the right direction. Please feel free to comment if you have other choices you like.
Music and Audio Files
This site is awesome, and includes a lot of choices. Pick a genre and a mood and get ready to explore. As he says “Some of the pieces here are background to talk over, while some are full blown pieces suitable to sit and listen to. I love sharing this music with you, and hope it helps you in your life in some small way to complete a project, or brightens your day.”
Music loops are instantly available for download and perfect for PowerPoint presentations, videos or any multimedia project. A music loop is a short track, and can be repeated continuously. The audio file is played end to end during your presentation. Be sure to look for the download link beside the Tags and not get fooled by the ads that want you to download.
Despite its name, this site does sell you music, but the prices will start as low as 99 cents, and can be a great resources for high-quality sounds.
Photography and Illustrations
Advertised as “by creatives for creatives,” these images are all completely free. These great images are yours to play with, and offer beautiful defining visuals for presentations.
These pictures are generally offered under the Creative Commons license, which means you can use the image for free but you have to give attribution. Be careful if you are doing work for pay or to be sold, as most instances of the Creative Commons license do not allow that. If you’re interested in learning more check out the Creative Commons website.
This site offers royalty free photography and illustrations that you can use for free, plus it offers premium services at a low cost. They have a great search engine and offer plenty of choices.
Boasts that it has over 13,000 free animations, and I believe them. If you’re looking for something fun and cute to liven up your presentation, check them out.
Brainy Betty has got tons of videos, backgrounds and other free resources for PowerPoint users. Check them out, but be willing to wade through the advertising.
Believe it or not, some videos on YouTube are okay to use, but you may have to ask the owner’s permission to use them. The devil is in the small print, and you are always advised to ask permission before you use it, even if it says “free.”