Internet Archive | Huge Database of Free Film Clips

by Desktop Documentaries

The Internet Archive, a 501-c3 non-profit, has a vast collection of movie clips online dating back to the early 1900's – including full length movies, cartoons, wartime film clips, video game footage, vintage educational films, old home movies, live music concerts, sports events and live news coverage (including a collection from 9/11).

Thousands of public domain free movies, films, audio and videos are available on the internet for you to download and use in your documentary project.

Here are a few examples of what you'll find over at the Internet Archive.

Civil Defense TV Spots (1965)

Cinderella (cartoon) 1922

The Internet Archive collection also includes the Prelinger Archives of more than 60,000 non-fiction ephemeral films. Here's just one example:

San Francisco Post-Quake Scene (1906)


Some filmmakers have already created their own films using clips they found in the archive.

Learn more about Video Mashups

The majority of film clips in the Internet Archive are free with unrestricted access, although you need to check the text box to the left of each clip for copyright information and any restrictions.

For documentary filmmakers, without a doubt, the Internet Archive is a fantastic resource.

To visit the site, go to

Comments for Internet Archive | Huge Database of Free Film Clips

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Jan 26, 2018
better be safe than sorry NEW
by: B.T.

That's correct Lawrence. You always want to double check with the owners and get explicit permission. Yes, it's a pain.

Jan 26, 2018
Are you sure you can use this stuff? NEW
by: Lawrence D


I emailed the archive and received this response (below). So can you use the footage in docs or would you recommend contacting each uploader of the video (quite laborious) ?

"Thank you for the inquiry. The Internet Archive generally does not advise as to the copyright status of items in the collection at and does not guarantee the accuracy of information posted on items’ details or collection pages, including information regarding copyright or intellectual property rights of any kind. Our terms of use ( require that users make use of the Internet Archive's Collections at their own risk and ensure that such use is non-infringing and in accordance with all applicable laws."

Jan 28, 2016
by: Tommo

Thanks for alllllll your useful information and articles. Truly have been an amazing help so far. :) namaste

Dec 09, 2013
by: Heather M

Thank you so much for pointing me to the Internet Archive. You have quite possibly saved me hundreds of hours.

Also, I love your website. Sooooo very helpful!


Aug 28, 2011
by: Rachel

This is a phenomenal resource. You could literally produce an entire documentary series using this footage.

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