VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Develop Multimodal Assignments: a Faculty Guide

Resources and guidance to assist faculty in assigning and assessing multimodal/multimedia projects.

Sources for (re)usable content (e.g. public domain, Creative Commons-licensed, etc.)

One of the most fraught decisions that students need to make while working on multimodal projects is whether or how to incorporate other people's work into their projects.  This requires a solid grounding in the principles of copyright and fair use and a broad understanding of their applicability to student work both in the classroom and in public presentations (e.g. when it's available on the open web).

Copyright Basics

VCU Libraries' Scholarly Communication Outreach Librarian, Hillary Miller, has created a pair of guides that should help you in understanding copyright matters: Copyright for Faculty and  Copyright for Undergraduates. These guides provide a strong orientation to the issues that arise and pointers on navigating them in your own work and with your students.

Sources of Multimedia Content for Use in Class


  • Find Images - VCU Libraries' guide to finding images, from Carla-Mae Crookendale, Visual Arts Research Librarian. Also includes some further information on copyright and fair use in the context of visual imagery.



  • ccMixter - very large source for a wide range of music, mixes, and samples for use in remixes, videos, games, podcasts, and commercial projects, managed through Creative Commons licensing.
  • Freesound - a collaborative database of Creative Commons-licensed sounds. Browse, download and share sounds.
  • Musopen - from a non-profit that provides recordings, sheet music, and textbooks to the public for free, without copyright restrictions.
  • Digital History Historic Music - collection of recordings of American music thought to be in the public domain arranged by era.
  • NASA on SoundCloud - a collection of NASA sounds from historic spaceflights and current missions; refer to the linked sound use policy for details.
  • Creative Commons Search - CC offers a search box that lets users search across a number of different multimedia collections, including audio, for Creative Commons-licensed content.

Citation Assistance

One important and ethical step involved with using other people's work is for students to cite them when they do have permission to use that content (either through license, direct communication, fair use, or another means).  Consult the Cite My Sources and Avoid Plagiarism and Citation Styles guides from VCU Libraries.

Using Google for Research

Many students, when turning to the web for content to add to their projects, will start off on Google.  You may wish to direct them to (and familiarize yourself with) Humanities Research Librarian John Glover's Use Google for My Research guide.