Content last reviewed:
Images in the Public Domain and Creative Commons
Listed below are a variety of resources for finding Creative Commons (CC) and public domain images.
Image Search Images
- Creative Commons Search available on the Creative Commons website includes an option to search for Creative Commons content including images across numerous sources, such as Flickr, Google, and Wikimedia Commons, among many others.
- Google’s Advanced Images Search provides a field for usage rights where you can select the type of license you want, including free to use and share, free to use, share and modify, and free to use, share even commercially. You can search by exact word or phrase, by image size and aspect ratio, colour, type of image (e.g. face, photo, clip art, etc.), by domain or website, by file type (e.g. JPG, GIF), and by usage rights.
- Yahoo Image Search allows you to limit your results by clicking on “License” below the search box once you have entered a search term. You can select the type of license or public domain works. You can also limit your search by image size, colour, and type.
Image Sharing Sites
- Flickr Advanced Search allows you to search using keywords or a phrase and to select the kind of license you prefer (e.g. commercial use allowed or modification allowed) from a dropdown box.
- Flickr: The Commons provides access to images with no known copyright restrictions from over 70 participating institutions ranging from the Swedish National Heritage Board to NASA. Users can limit their image searches to a specific institution by navigating to an institution's photostream. Search results can be filtered by different types of licences, including all creative commons, commercial use allowed, modifications allowed, and others.
- Wikimedia Commons offers fully searchable access to media, including images, sounds and videos, that have been uploaded by users. Most of the content is available under various Creative Commons licenses and licensing information is clearly provided at the bottom of each media item's individual page.
Free Stock Image Resources
- Foter uses the Flickr API and searches Creative Commons photos, so source attribution is often required. Be sure to check the license terms for each image. Foter also offers a WordPress Plugin.
- MorgueFile is one of the oldest stock photo sites. MorgueFile offers over 350,00 images free for any use, including commercial. If you do not alter the images you must credit the original creators, and you can not claim images used in their original state as your own. See details of use under their licensing terms.
- The Noun Project offers a selection of free icons, symbols, and graphics for visual communication. Membership is required and there is a cost if you want access the entire suit of images.
- Pexels provides high quality and completely free stock photos licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. All photos are tagged, searchable and relatively easy to discover through their discover pages.
- Pickupimage offers free public domain high-resolution images. Registration is required, but it is free.
- Pixabay offers free images and videos released under Creative Commons CC0. You may download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty free for anything you like, even in commercial applications. Attribution is sometimes required. Note: Shutterstock images are also featured and clearly watermarked. Shutterstock is a commercial site and their images are not free to use.
- Unsplash offers photos licensed under Creative Commons Zero, which means you can copy, modify, distribute, and use the photos for free, including for commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.