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Images, Music, & Copyright

A guide to finding legally reusable images and sounds.

Sites with CC-licensed, or smilarly licensed, images

Individual Sites and how to identify the permitted reuses:

Animal Photos! is perfectly named.  The site contains numerous photographs of more than 240 species, all are licensed as either CC-BY or CC-BY-SA.  Click "Read the rest of this entry" to see the specific permissions (click on "Some rights reserved" for details) and to copy the html code for the required attribution
Note: attribution is required.

Europeana is a single access point for millions of books, paintings, films, museum objects and archival records throughout Europe - and this includes lots of images.  Enter a search term in the search box and then modify your search results in the lefthand column of your initial search results.  To specify the type of reuse permission you are looking for click 'By Copyright' and select accordingly.  Then click on a preview image in the search results to see more information about it.  Clicking on the icons below the preview image on the left of the 'image information page' will open a new window with a full description of the reuse terms or, in the case of a Creative Commons license, a link to the licence itself.
Note: this site has twelve different licenses, not all of which permit reuse - you need to check the details.

Flickr Advanced Search enables you to search for photographs, videos, screenshots, screencasts, illustrations, art, animation, and CGI objects.  In addition to being able to use Search Terms in several ways you can search by content type, media type, and date.  Then, at the bottom of the search form, you can limit your search to imagery and other content licensed through Creative Commons.  Flickr currently uses six license types.

Flickr Commons contains collections of images made available by museums and other organizations worldwide, including many images created by U.S. Government employees.  These organizations have determined that "no known copyright restrictions" exist, which is not the same legal status as a license for unlimited reuse.  Each of the organizations that have contributed images to 'The Commons' has a rights statement that explains their understanding of "no known copyright restrictions" - read it before using an image and credit the source.  Images provided by the United States Federal Government are free of copyright and available for educational or informational purposes, including photo collections, textbooks, public exhibits, computer graphical simulations, and Web pages.

  • A Flickr page with 2.6 million images from old books.  The photos and drawings are from more than 600 million library book pages scanned by the Internet Archive.  The pictures range from 1500 to 1923 (many, but not all, post-1923 books and images are currently under copyright).
  • At this time there are not yet any galleries or collections in the Internet Archive Book Images collection.  The Flickr Search feature defaults to searching the entire site, with no reliable way to limit your search to one collection.
  • However, each image is tagged with a number of tags that can lead you to similarly tagged images.  There are links to the page in the text it came from, a link to full citation information, and a link to all of the other images from that book.
  • Most or all of these images have no known copyright restrictions.

Fotopedia is a growing collection of Images and text provided by Fotopedia members.  All of the images and text in Fotopedia are under copyright, some are available for reuse under a Creative Commons License.  If the image is available there will be a Creative Commons logo directly after the word 'Photo' that links to the license.  (Sometimes the text is available for license and the image is not.)  Fotopedia provides five ways to search the content posted by members:

  • Community - this is divided into 17 categories (Animal, Places, People, etc.) and 2 categories (New and Popular).
  • Map - look for images by location.
  • Magazine - collections of images, often with text, referred to as an 'article'.
  • Encyclopedia - you can search for articles, photos, and members.
  • Search - a search box located in the upper right-hand corner, click the magnifying glass icon.

Google Image Search, three ways to find reusable images:

  • Google Advanced Image Search – select your preferred usage rights at the bottom of the search form.
  • Do a regular Google search. After the results page appear click on the "Images" link, then "Search tools," then "Usage rights." Select the appropriate usage right.
  • Google Image Search, scroll to the bottom of the search results and click on the "Switch to basic version" link.  A menu will appear on the left side of the page with options for reuse.

Imagebase is a collection of photos, mostly taken by David Niblack, that can be freely used for personal, commercial, non-profit, artistic, or creative purposes.  [Note: Imagebase is an advertising supported site, the advertisements are on the left side of the page and include advertisements for stock photography and related topics.]

KenThomas.us: Photographer Ken Thomas offers his pictures to everyone for free use.  The images are arranged in seven galleries (Favorites, Friends & Family, Graphics, Panoramics, People & Things, Scenery, Beauty, Etc., and Wildlife), and some of the galleries have sub-galleries accessible by clicking on the image.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art hosts an increasingly vast archive of (mostly) hi-resolution digital images online.  Images of works of art that the Museum believes to be in the public domain are identified as Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC) Icon (Open Access for Scholarly Content) and may be downloaded for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use, or for fair use as defined in the United States copyright laws.  Authorized non-commercial uses for MoMA images include scholarly publications in any media.  You must cite the author and source of such images, and the citations should include the URL "www.metmuseum.org," but not in any way that implies endorsement of the use of the images.

morgueFile contains over 311,377 free high resolution digital stock photographs and reference images for either corporate or public use.  The purpose of this site is to provide free image reference material for illustrators, comic book artist, designers, teachers and all creative pursuits.  API access is available.
Note: stay on the morgueFile tab. The other tabs are pay services.

New Old Stock is the creation of Cole Townsend.  The scrollable site compiles photographs from the Flickr Commons (described above) or other public archives where they have been posted as 'free of known copyright restrictions'.   Below each image is a link to the Flickr page it was posted on, including the copyright status.

Openclipart contains more than 50,000 Clipart images that are released into the Public Domain.  Openclipart has put together a small chart of the many permitted uses for Openclipart images – including unlimited commercial use.  [Note: there is a box of advertisements for commercial clipart on the righthand side.]

Pickup Image offers a variety of images, many – and perhaps all – with Creative Commons Licenses attached.  All photos have been reviewed by Pickup Image staff in order to assure “a high level of quality stock photos”.  Search is available and you can also look for images by category: Animals/Wildlife, Arts-and-Design, Beauty/Fashion, Celebrities, City/Architecture, Clipart, Destinations, Downloads , Favorites , Flowers/Trees, Food and Drink, Gardening, Heritage, Holidays, Home Decor, Industrial, Military, Miscellaneous, Nature, Newest , Objects, Parks/Outdoor, People, Popular , Space, Sports/Recreation, Technology, Transportation, and Travel.

Pixabay is a repository for public domain pictures.  You can freely use (with some caveats) any image from this website in digital and printed format, for personal and commercial use.  Currently there are 138,155 photographs, 47,789 clipart, and 41,121 free vector images.  Attribution is required if you use their API results.

PublicDomainPictures.net is a repository of free public domain images that also links to commercial sites.  Their public domain images have a Creative Commons License attesting to their public domain status.  [Note: if you redistribute an image online a hyperlink to the page you found it on is mandatory.  Also, If you reuse an image commercially be aware that some photos may require a model or property release, and pictures featuring commercial products should be used with care.]  PublicDomainPictures also offers 43 Photo Tutorial videos that look like essential learning for an aspiring photographer.  Browseable categories include: Animals, Architecture, Background, Business, Flowers, Food, Holidays, Illustrations, Landscape, Latest Pictures, Light Effects, Macro, Nature, Objects, Office, Other, People, Seasonal Photos, Seasons, Sports, Still Life, Symbols, & Top Images.

SpinXpress Get Media searches repositories like The Internet Archive, Flickr and blip.tv so that independent producers can borrow from a wide range of Creative Commons licensed intellectual property.  You can select the exact license and media type to search for, and which source to search.

Superfamous is the website of Dutch interaction designer Folkert Gorter.  Gorter’s photography is available under the conditions of a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.  “This means that you can use the work for your own purposes — including commercial use — as long as credit is provided”.

Unsplash offers 10 new free (CC0 licensed) photographs emailed to you every 10 days in exchange for your email address.  An archive of previous releases is available.

Wikimedia Commons is a database of 20,938,728+ freely reusable media files to which anyone can contribute.  Clicking on an image or media file will take you to the information page for that file.  Among the often extensive information (you may need to scroll down) supplied by the uploader is the copyright status, the copyright owner, and the license conditions.  Except for materials believed to be in the public domain, a link to the full text of the license(s) is included on the file description page.

Yahoo Advanced Image Search: After your initial image search open the sidebar menu on the left side of the page (the >>, upper left).  Scroll to the bottom of the sidebar and click "Labeled for Reuse."  You click on any of the resulting images to see their permitted reuses.

YouTube has some videos with Creative Commons Licenses.  To see what sort of license a video on YouTube has click 'show more' in the "About" section underneath the video.  To search for Creative Commons Licensed video first use the search box at the top of the page, then click the Filter dropdown-button that will appear just above the search results, select 'Creative Commons' and any additional limiters that seem appropriate.