Sourcing content for resources: What you need to know

Find out how to source the best images, videos, fonts and text for your resources.

Tes Author Team

Sourcing content for resources

Sourcing content

Note: Information contained within these pages is intended as general guidance only. This information is not intended to be, and should not be, relied upon as legal advice. If you have any questions regarding copyright, you should consult an adviser specialising in intellectual property law.

When it comes to sharing teaching resources online (free or premium), you need to make sure the material you include is created by you, or that you have permission to use it. This applies to many things in your resource, including:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Fonts
  • Text

In a nutshell, it is important to have permission to use anything that is not your own creation in your resource.

Before you get started with uploading resources, we strongly recommend taking a moment to carefully read our Terms and Conditions, as well as our Copyright and Resource licences page to get informed on our policies. It is your responsibility to be well-informed when using content that you have not made yourself.  However, we know this is a notoriously tricky area, so we’ve highlighted below some best practice points and links to help you.

How do I know if an image is available for reuse?

As a rule of thumb, if you want to use an image in your resource, it should be something that you have created or that you have the licence to use. In some cases, images can be in the public domain, which means that they are not currently protected by copyright. In most cases, however, copyright owners restrict the use of images by assigning a licence to them. Some images are labelled for non-commercial re-use, which means that they cannot be part of a resource that is available for purchase. Other images are shared under a specific licence, or provide the option of buying the appropriate licence that allows it to be used in a resource.

If you have found an image that you really love and feel it would be perfect as part of your teaching resources, it’s best to check the terms of the website the image originates from. There you can usually find a clear-cut statement on how the image can be re-produced for non-commercial (such as in a resource you’re sharing for free), or commercial (such as in a premium resource) reuse.

In most cases where the image is not in the public domain, you need to credit or attribute the artist or website where you found the image. This also applies to images that allow reuse. In order to provide correct attribution, a link to the website where the image is originally found, as well as the author’s name and the licence the image is shared under, will do the trick. For example, take a look at how the image below can be attributed.

Strawberries - Attribution ExampleStrawberry pancakes by Flora M, licenced under CC-by-2.0

If you’re feeling creative and would rather use your own images or drawings, you can also attribute yourself! A simple "Images created by [yourTESshopname / yourfullname]” will suffice. If you’d like to learn more about licencing, you can browse through the creative commons network.  

Here are some links to get you started:

  • In Pixabay you can find millions of royalty-free images and vectors.
  • Pexels also has a large collection of public domain images.
  • You can read about the licences of  Wikimedia Commons images here.
  • Flickr has a collection of images that can be used for various purposes when given the correct attribution.

As mentioned above, don’t forget you still need to check if the images found on these sites allow your specific use - check the details of each website and each image carefully.

How do I know if a video or song is available for reuse?

Videos, songs and music sheets can also be protected by copyright, and permissions for re-distribution might be limited. If you want to include a video in your resource, it’s better to stay on the safe side and ensure the images and music in it are created by you. However, if you are looking to add a pre-made video, it is important to check the licence under which it is shared. Some videos, such as some clips from films, prohibit sharing for commercial purposes, which means that they cannot be included in a premium resource. However, videos that are in the public domain, or are publicly available through a lawful website, can sometimes be shared through embedded codes that link to the source where the videos are originally found. As with images, it’s best to check the licence under each video, and get permission before using it in a resource.

Similarly, music such as songs, soundtracks and song lyrics may also have restrictions when it comes to commercial and non-commercial redistribution. In most cases, music also requires attribution. For example, listen to City Sunshine by Kevin MacLeod, licenced under Creative Commons 0.

Here are some links to get you started:

  • In Freepd you can find lots of public domain music. 
  • Soundbible has hundreds of sound effects, and the information on permissions for reuse and attribution are right next to each audio clip. 
  • You can read about the licence under which music in Bensound is shared here

How do I know if a font or a text is available for reuse?

As you might have noticed, authors use many different kinds of fonts in their teaching resources. For example, teachers often prefer fonts that have a rounded for students who have recently started learning how to read, because it resembles handwriting. Apart from the fonts that are pre-installed in computer software, other kinds of fonts can also be installed and used in resources. Font developers can protect their fonts by sharing them under different licences. An example of this is the SLI Open Font licence. Again, it’s good practice to check the website where the fonts originate to see the licence under which they can be used. If there are no specifications on how you can use them for different purposes, it might be better to choose a font that is clearly labelled for reuse.

It can be confusing when thinking about the length of text that can be included within a resource. As with the rest of creative work, literary pieces such as books, poems and even blog posts, can be protected by copyright. It is not a good idea to include literary pieces, books or extracts when permission is not obtained, especially when they are lengthy.

Here are some links to get you started:

  • The Fontlibrary has thousands of fonts you can use, but you still need to check the licence of each one before deciding how to use it. 
  • Many royalty-free fonts can be found in 1001fonts.
  • To use or not to use Comic Sans? Why not use Comic Neue instead? 
  • You can read more about using text in your resources here.

Of course, when researching all this, it's always good to be mindful to check that anything you read is consistent with the advice in official websites.

I’ve created my own vectors, music or fonts. Can I sell them on TES?

Many authors have been sharing vectors, clipart, and photos with other teachers, so this is definitely something that you can do as well. You can upload free or premium resources with your own artistic creations and add the appropriate licence, for instance our Teaching Resource Licence for premium resources, and one of three Creative Commons Licenses for sharing free resources. This also helps other authors when they select material for their resources, especially if the artistic work that you have created is particularly targeted towards teaching material.

What type of content is not generally available for reuse?

As there are different restrictions enforced by copyright owners, permission for reuse can vary for content that is protected by copyright; for this reason, we can’t provide you with an extensive list of content that can’t be shared. However, to ensure you have a better understanding of these restrictions, we have gathered some examples below to help raise your awareness. Please note that this list is intended as general guidance only, and it’s good practice to check the terms and conditions where the content originates to see the permissions for reuse.

Here are some examples of types of content that cannot be reused:

  • Examination boards like AQA, Edexcel/ Pearson, OCR, WJEC, CCEA and CIE – exam papers, mark schemes and logos are protected by copyright (please check individual examination boards for allowances as some will allow sharing of certain materials)
  • Educational organisations like International Baccalaureate and ASDAN – exam papers, mark schemes and logos are protected by copyright
  • Websites like Twinkl, Kerboodle, Boardworks, Talk for Writing and Makaton – resources are protected by copyright
  • Physical sources and publishers like CGP, Hodder Education, Pie Corbett and Roald Dahl – books, poems and text are protected by copyright (please check with copyright owners for explicit permission for reuse)
  • Brands like Top Trumps and Coca-Cola – certain uses of concepts, names and images are protected by copyright
  • Companies like Disney – images, sounds, video clips and text are protected by copyright
  • Franchises like Star Wars and Harry Potter – images, sounds, video clips and text are protected by copyright