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*Reusable LibGuides Boxes: Finding CC Images/Media

Using Images & Media

Everything on the Internet is not true. Likewise, everything on the Internet is not free for you to use.

Copyright protects digital items just as it does physical ones. However, in the digital environment it can be very difficult to see what copyright or license applies and even more difficult to track down a creator to ask for permission. So what can you do?

Use media with stated licenses



This includes Creative Commons and Public Domain; these works will be clearly labeled so that you understand what you need to do to edit or reuse them.

See if your situation qualifies as Fair Use

If you are using these materials in the classroom, as a student or instructor, your work may be subject to different guidelines. Remember, you will still need to provide citation information to give proper credit to your sources.

Create your own media

Thanks to technology, creating your own images and media is easier than ever before. 

Purchase the rights to use items

There are many sites where you can pay to be able to use images, videos, etc. We recommend pursuing the other three options first!

Find Images with Stated Licenses

Google Images search with arrow pointing to Search Tools button

  • Not filtered by license - Results will include images that are protected under copyright (All Rights Reserved). They may be usable under Fair Use with proper attribution, but we recommend that you select another option. 
  • Reuse - Results will be Creative Commons or public domain images that allow you to reuse them. Look for the individual license to know what specifically you need to do to reuse the image. Alt. term: free to use or share.
  • Modification - You can change these images however you would like. Include adding borders, making collages, etc
  • Noncommercial use  - You cannot use these images for commercial purposes. 

Flickr Advanced search Creative Commons options


  • If you re-enter a search in the top box of Flickr, it sometimes loses your Creative Commons limiter. You can reset it by selecting Creative Commons from the License drop-down list.
  • Results are ranked by relevance. You can change this to see "Interesting" photos that have been viewed, tagged, commented on, and favorited most.

Flickr results page limiters


Key information underneath the photo tells you who its creator is, how many times the photo has been viewed, and any provided details about the type of photograph or camera used. On the far right, you will see three icons. The second icon (arrow pointing right) allows you to share the photo and gives a direct url back to the image. The third icon (arrow pointing down) allows you to select a size and download the photo.

Under these icons, you'll see the date the photo was taken. Directly underneath is the photo's license. You can click on the hyperlink to see the actual Creative Commons license and specific details about requirements for reuse.

Options beneath a Flickr image show number of views, date taken, license, and download information


  • Browse through categories or use the search feature at the top of the page. Images are nested in categories and folders; if you don't appreciate their search interface, remember that Google Image searches will return items within Wikimedia Commons.


If you can get to the Image File page, you'll be set. You may have to click on "More Details about this File" to get to this page.

  • There are helpful options to the right of the image on this page. You can download the file and get information about how to reuse the file in various ways. License information, image url, and author information is provided.

Wikimedia Commons image file page

  • License information is provided in an easier way if you continue to scroll down on this page. There will be a section labeled "License" that gives an explanation of the image license and links to additional information too.

Wikimedia commons image license

Licenses & More

Public Domain: Works that you can use in any way you want to. Most works enter the public domain once intellectual property laws expire, but some enter because creators wish for their work to be available without copyright law restrictions.

The Copyright Act gives the owner of a copyright the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute their work. One exception to this exclusive right is called the fair use exceptionThe fair use exception permits the reproduction of a portion of a copyrighted work without the copyright owner's permission, under certain circumstancesThis is a vitally important exception for education, as it enables students, scholars, and critics to use and reference copyrighted works in their own scholarship, teaching, and critiques.

Four factors are considered in all fair use evaluations. They are:

  • Purpose & character
  • Nature of the work
  • Amount
  • Effect 

Resources below can help you understand these factors and determine if your situation qualifies under Fair Use.

See the resources below for guidelines about specific formats or educational situations.

Find Videos with Stated Licenses

There is a Creative Commons filter option that will limit your search results to videos with stated licenses. Check out the other helpful filter options as well (date, length, etc).

YouTube search filters, with the Creative Commons option highlighted

To see the license for a YouTube Video, click on the Show More option on the About tab. The section will expand the the license should be located near the bottom. If it is a Creative Commons license, it will be a hyperlink that you can click for more information.

Show More button expands info and shows license.

Vimeo search filters

There is an option to limit search results to only show items with Creative Commons licenses. On the main search results page, look for the Advanced Filters option on the right. This expands into a menu of filter options, including date uploaded and length. At the bottom of this menu, you will see a drop-down option for license. You must select a particular Creative Commons license; it will not search all CC videos at once.

Vimeo videos show license information directly under the video, next to the title and creator name. You can click on the icons to see the full license from the Creative Commons website.

Vimeo license information is by creator and upload info





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