Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
How to Find Creative Commons & Public Domain Images
Click on the Search Tools button to see helpful limiters, including image size, color, type, time, etc.
- 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.
This link brings you to the Advanced Search page. Place your search term in the box, then scroll down and check the box to search "only within Creative-Commons licensed content." If you wish to make any changes to the image, you'll also want to check the "find content to modify, adapt, or build upon" box
WHEN SEARCHING, TWO THINGS TO NOTE:
- 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.
FINDING A FLICKR IMAGE LICENSE:
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.
Large collection of public domain and Creative Commons images, sounds, maps, and other media.
FINDING A WIKIMEDIA IMAGE:
- 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.
FINDING A LICENSE FOR A WIKIMEDIA IMAGE:
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.
- 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.
Creative Commons Search
Portal for searching various sites for Creative Commons images, audio, video, and other media. Select a site to begin your search; your currently selected site will be highlighted in light blue.
Huge variety of public domain images. Warning: the first row of images in any search are sponsored results from Shutterstock and are not in the public domain.
"FreeFoto.com is the largest collection of free photographs on the Internet (link back and attribution required)."
Need art? Check out WikiPaintings for beautiful, high-resolution images of fine art.
About Creative Commons
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 exception: The fair use exception permits the reproduction of a portion of a copyrighted work without the copyright owner's permission, under certain circumstances. This 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
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.
Medical-Related Sources with Public Domain and Copyrighted Images
Where can I find medical and health images?
These sites have a combination of public domain, Creative Commons licensed, or copyright protected images available. Check the terms and conditions for each image of any collection.
National Cancer Institute Visuals Online - This site includes both copyright protected and public domain images. See the Reuse Restrictions information for each image.
Public Health Image Library (PHIL) - This site contains both public domain and copyright protected images. See the Copyright Restrictions information for each image.
Wellcome Collections - Images are not all health-focused. This site includes both copyright protected and public domain images. See the Reuse Restrictions information for each image.
David G. Cogan Ophthalmic Pathology Collection - The images in this collection are not copyrighted but credit should be given to the "Cogan Collection, NEI/NIH."
NIH Image Gallery - The National Institutes of Health provides an image gallery on Flickr. The images are licensed under varying CC licenses. Check the licensing for each individual image.
Open-i: Open Access Biomedical Image Search Engine - Collection of images from the open source literature. Use the "License Type" filter along the top menu bar to include only attribution or attribution/non-commercial images.