You have some great insight to offer on the subject of stock media. You're right, if there's a type of media, there's stock available out there. We have discussion with our students about whether it's better to create their content themselves, or if it's ok to use stock media. Some see the reality of the situation, but often we get students who hate stock media and vow to never use it. We tell them that's nice and all, but in the real world sometimes there are just certain limitations (time, budget, talent, etc.) that get in the way, and it's the only way you can get the project done.
One site I use a lot and point my students to is sxc.hu. It's a solid free stock images site (even if it was bought out by Getty Images) that has a lot of photos to choose from. It makes it easy for the artist to attach rights to the work, and it's also easy for the viewer to find those rights. Creative Commons is just all around awesome.
With all this talk about copyrights and creativity where do we find media? There are a number of places to find good media. First you have to decide what you need it for. Then have some idea of you want. If you have a budget you can try stock agencies. If not then you can check for free use or open source media. Let me give you a couple examples of what you can find.
Stock agencies are simple to use sites that offer some limited free media. Remember they are there to support artists so most media will require payment. You need to purchase the correct license when buying from a stock site. Don’t think these site are only for pictures because most sell different types of media. This can be images, illustrations, flash, video clips, music, sound effects and recently After Effects project files. The use of this media can be anything from a low end web license to a full print publication license. You need only credit the stock agency for supplying the content in most cases. The fee is one time thus these agencis are royalty free.
Free, shared or limited release media is all over the web. Use caution and download any license information if it is available. My personal preference is to use creative commons. I’ve used it for several video projects adding music and sound effects. These files are normally very high quality and the license information is displayed by easy to follow graphics. Again understand how you can use these. In most cases (if not all) you will need to include credits for the artist. Licenses will allow personal use only, reuse non-commercial, reuse commercial, remix and combination of uses. YouTube has even started using creative commons licenses. If you are on a low budget or just want to have some fun this is a great way/place to find media!
Resources you may want to check out…
Pond5 <—Video, Audio, Sound Effects and After Effects!!!
Thanks for reading!!