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Images, Music, & Copyright

A guide to finding legally reusable images and sounds.

'Free Images' attract potential customers

Ancestry Images is provided by the commercial site Antique Prints & Maps as a free image resource for anyone undertaking family history, ancestry or local history research.  The originals of these images are for sale at Antique Prints & Maps.  Images of prints, maps, and portraits that have been sold are still available; consequently Ancestry Images contains over 27,800 images of old and antique prints, maps and portraits, some from the 17th century and many from the later 18th century and 19th century.
You can Search or Browse, once you see an image you want click on it to get the larger size, then ‘right click’ it and 'save as' to your hard drive.
You may use the images on your own non-commercial web pages. Personal websites on family history, genealogy, or other historical research etc. are welcome to copy any of the images for their own use, as also are charity and non-profit organizations.  A link back to Ancestry Images, or a credit such as 'Image courtesy of ancestryimages.com' is, of course, necessary.  Please contact Antique Prints & Maps if any images are wanted for commercial purposes.

bigfoto.com offers free download of pictures from around the world in its constantly growing photo galleries.  In return you will need to provide a link to the bigfoto website on your own website.  If you do not have a website you can click the Facebook "Like" button instead.  If the picture is used in a wikipedia article please provide a link back to the bigfoto web page where the photo was found..  You can use these images for personal or commercial purposes and there are no watermarks or complicated rules.  Most of the gallaries are organized geographically.

deathtothestockphoto will email you free photographs every month "for all your creative needs".  Please read their license agreement to make sure your intended reuse is approved of.  (You can, of course, 'go premium' for a 'small fee'.)

Dreamstime!, a stock photography retailer, offers nearly 10,000 "high resolution Royalty Free stock images" that you can download for free. (Photographers can also "achieve great portfolio exposure by offering free images" through Dreamstime!)  You will need to sign up for a 'free account', attribution is required, and there are a wide variety of categories to browse.

FreeDigitalPhotos.net offers small-sized (400 pixels on the longest side) photos and illustrations free of charge.  Larger sized versions and unwatermarked versions are available to buy.  Attribution is required for all free images.  Their permissible uses page has further details.  Categories include:

Freeimages contains around 400,000 mostly freely reusable photographs.  'Free membership' is required.  An Advanced Search is available.  In some cases you may need to notify the artists about using the images, and you always need to credit them.  Any relevant restrictions are visible with the image preview, right next to the Download button.  The Image license Agreement provides an overall explanation.  Browseable categories include:

FreeMediaGoo.com allows you to use their copyrighted images for both commercial and private use. Their free License is laudably short and clear.  The selection is limited, their image categories are aviation, beach, buildings, finance, food, and wildlife.  They also offer 'texture' and background images in the categories: beach, concrete, digital factory, dirt, rust, steal (sic), surreal, water, and wood.

Freerange Stock is advertising supported - photographers get paid when people click on the ads that appear next to their photographs.  You will need a 'free membership'.  All images are at least 2400 x 1600, and photos can be used for commercial or personal projects.  Their preferred credit is "Photos courtesy of and copyright Free Range Stock, www.freerangestock.com".

FreePhotosBank is an advertising site for Dreamsbank and others.  Images posted by the author “freephotosbank” may be reused, unmodified and noncommercially, if FreePhotosBank is credited.  For images posted by other authors use the "contact function" within their profile to contact them and ask permission.  An Advanced Search and 'Hot List' are available.  Listed categories include:

GRATISOGRAPHY describes itself as a site with "Free high-resolution pictures you can use on your personal and commercial projects".  The images are credited to Ryan McGuire, "an avid photographer that enjoys capturing slightly eclectic images".  Gratisography says that all of the images on the site are free of copyright restrictions and the Creative Commons tool for generating a CC0 license is linked to....but no actual CC licenses for individual images seem to have been created.  Thus these images are probably not 'public domain' despite Mr. McGuire's clear intent to make them so; consequently, if you decide to reuse some of Mr. McGuire's images you should let him know through his personal website.  New pictures are added weekly.

littlevisuals.co will send 7 hi-res images to your inbox every 7 days in return for your email address.  The images are licensed under a CC0 license.

picjumbo is the creation of Viktor Hanacek.  He offers his photographs - and some donated by other people - for free (see the terms of use).  There is no search option, the photographs are organized into categories:  Abstract, Animals, Architecture, Fashion, Food, Nature, People, Sunlights, Technology, Things, Uncategorized, and Wedding.  [Note: picjumbo is a donations and advertising supported site – the advertisements include opportunities to search commercial sites for non-free images.  Picjumbo also offers a ‘premium service’.]

RGBStock is an advertising-supported site with more than 97,730 stock photos available for free download – provided your reuse is within their Terms of Use and Image Licence rules (allowed uses include: websites, blogs, multimedia presentations, broadcast film or video, as screen background or desktop wallpaper, in print to decorate your home or office, and also in magazines, newspapers, books, brochures, flyers, text books, if the images used are illustrative and not the primary content being redistributed as printed materials).  A ‘free membership’ is required.  If you wish to use RGBStock images in other ways contact the image owner by clicking "Send message" in their profile.  Photographer profiles can be accessed by clicking on their name next to the image, or at the top of each gallery page.

Stockvault.net is a “stock photo sharing website”.  All of the ‘free’ images are the copyrighted property of stockvault.net or the photographer who took the picture.  Stockvault.net grants you a “non-exclusive, non-transferable license” to use their images on non-commercial websites, multimedia presentations, broadcast film and video, cell phones, in printed non-commercial materials, magazines, newspapers, books, brochures, flyers, CD/DVD covers, etc., non-commercially on business cards, letterhead, etc., and to decorate your home, office or public place.  You may make whatever modifications you wish, but the resulting image will still be fully subject to their license regardless of the extent of the modification.