Public Domain Music and Free Audio Downloads

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Public Domain, Free Use and Copyleft Media

It feels good to get free stuff. In fact that’s probably why many of us get on the Web in the first place. But behind the usual blogs and Web sites lies untold fortunes of free-use content, all available for you to use legally and with a clean conscience. All the resources you need are there, whether to explore literature spanning the human experience or to find thousands of photos to spice up any project. There are even sites to help you understand all the copyright snags you might encounter along the way.

Definitions of Public Domain, Fair Use, and Copyleft

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Finding Free Content Online

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Public Domain Photos and Other Free-Use Images

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Finding Free Books and Public Domain Literature

Though visual and audio media certainly rule the Web these days in terms of sheer quantity, there's ... read more »

Public Domain Music and Free Audio Downloads

The Internet is a noisy place, with many audio offerings such as sound effects, midi clips and sheet music, entire albums or music samples, and blogs devoted to free sound. With almost half of Americans saying they downloaded music from the Web last year, copyright holders are struggling to keep up with the economic and legal ramifications of this expanding industry. These sites will help you grab all the goods you need while toeing the legal line.

Dulcinea's Insight

  • The copyright status of music can be tricky. Although there is a great deal of sheet music in the public domain, specific recordings and adaptations of it might not be. With record companies on the offensive these days, a careful examination of the legal status of any piece of music is recommended to avoid any legal unpleasantness.
  • Musicians are more particular about rights than most other artists online, and the specificity of the Creative Commons licenses they use is often greater. Read each license carefully.
  • Check out some music blogs if you're dying for some tunes but aren't quite up to date on the latest music.
  • There are many different file formats for audio these days. Although most will sound like what you expect, one format-known as MIDI-is actually a simplified, computer-produced sound file. It will give you the idea of a song, but don't expect orchestral quality, or vocals of any kind.

Dulcinea's Picks

For sheet music and MIDI ...
For sound effects ...
For music and samples ...
For music blogs ...
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