Sure, we love the internet for how it makes freely available so many cultural artifacts. And sure, we also love the internet for how it allows us to disseminate our own work. But the internet gets the most interesting, I would submit, when it makes freely available cultural artifacts with the express purpose of letting creators use them in their own work — which we then all get to experience through the internet. The new Public Domain Project will soon become an important resource for many such creators, offering as it does "thousands of historic media files for your creative projects, completely free and made available by Pond5," an entity that brands itself as "the world’s most vibrant marketplace for creativity."
So what can you find to use in the Public Domain Project? As of this writing, it offers 9715 pieces of footage, 473 audio files, 64,535 images, and 121 3D models. "The project includes digital models of NASA tools and satellites, Georges Méliès' 1902 film, A Trip To The Moon, speeches by political figures like Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King, Jr., recordings of performances from composers like Beethoven, and a laid-back picture of President Obama playing pool," says a post at The Creators Project explaining the site's background.
In the Public Domain Project's expanding archives you will also find clips of everything, from rocket launches to film of old New York to very, very early cat videos, to, of course, mushroom clouds. I imagine that some future Chris Marker could make creative use of this stuff indeed, and if they need a score, they could use a concerto for pizzicato and ten instruments, Chopin's "Nocturne in E Flat Major," or maybe "Johnny Get Your Gun." Alternatively, they could part out the very first documentary and use the Public Domain Project's bits and pieces of Dziga Vertov's Man With a Movie Camera. Whatever you want to create, the usable public domain can only grow more fruitful, so you might as well get mixing, remixing, and sharing, as Pond5 puts it, right away. Visit The Public Domain Project here.
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture as well as the video series The City in Cinema and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.