Tuesday, 1 May 2012

5 Great Sources of Creative Commons Images

If you are after images to use in learning and teaching the fear of copyright infringement can loom large.  One way around this is to look for Creative Commons licensed resources.  These are resources which someone has shared specifically for reuse with some rights reserved rather than the traditional 'all rights reserved' approach of copyright laws.  Attribution is vital when it comes to using these in your work, but they're a brilliant source of images, music, video etc and can really add to the creativity of your curriculum.  And we love a bit of creativity!

So, where to start?  Here are five of our favourite sources:

1.  CC Search

Search from a range of sources including audio, video, clipart and images with CC Search

From the Creative Commons organisation comes this meta search engine that can help you find a range of different resources - and you get to select whether they're for commercial purposes (and if they're for a course you're intending to market in some way, this is probably the safest option) and / or for modification etc.  The range of sources is great and if you want a single place from which you can start a search, this is perfect.

2.  Compfight

Compfight.com - search for Flickr images with a range of different licenses

This is basically a gateway to Flickr images - but you can search for any image or restrict it to Creative Commons licensed images too.  You can search on tags or description and the results come up as a single page of images from which you can click to choose the one you want and it'll open in a new window.  It's a very visual way of searching and better in many ways than using the Advanced Search function of Flickr which can turn up the same pictures but displays a limited number at a time forcing you to do a lot of clicking through pages to find what you want.  With Compfight all images are on the one page.

3. Google docs

Search for an image from within Google docs and you'll tap into CC-licensed images galore

You wouldn't generally think of Google docs as being a good source of Creative Commons licensed images, but if you're creating a Google doc and want to insert an image, then just click Insert > Image and then click Search.  What you get is a search box which will allow you to look either on Google or in the LIFE or Stock images archives for images which are labelled for commercial reuse with modification.  Perfect for creating materials for use in your teaching - and this works if you're creating a Google docs presentation too.  No more bullet-point heavy slides, adding images is straightforward!

4.  OpenClipArt

OpenClipArt search results - all images have waived copyright

Sometimes you don't want a photograph, you want an illustration instead - a little bit of clipart to make your point or complete your diagram.  This is where the OpenClipArt library can help.  Very simple to use and all images which have been submitted to this site have waived their rights, including copyright, which means that you have a huge range to choose from and you can modify/reuse to your heart's content.

5. Simple CC Flickr Search

The attribution which comes with an image found via CC Flickr Search

The colours of this site are really not pleasant (in my opinion at least!), but what it does as a site is excellent if you're after images to use online.  It not only allows you to search for Flickr Creative Commons Licensed images but it then gives you the embed code which comes complete with the correct attribution.  You also get to choose whereabouts the image will live on the page where you're going to put it as well as 'stamping' the image itself with the attribution if that's what you choose.  Very handy!

So... five great sources of visual illustration / inspiration for your work.  Just remember to apply the correct attribution and make sure that you're using the image according to the license (i.e. don't edit if they've said you can't modify it, don't use for commercial purposes if they've said you can't etc)... and you're good to go!



  1. This is a really valuable source of information about obtaining Creative Commons images. One of the biggest challenges in advising colleagues about the very necessary considerations of copyright when using technologies such as lecture recording, or posting materials into the VLE, is that it can be difficult for it to not all sound too negative. So rather than telling people what they can't do it's really great to be able to point to some resources that are really enabling. G

  2. Hey friends,I like this particular post. Thanks for Photographs and pictures of sun

  3. This is really a great post. it is helping me and my friend. thanks sir

  4. It was so enlightening to read the post! Thanks for sharing. RF Repeaters

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Very useful post Sarah, thank you. I will definitely add also in the list thenounproject which is a very nice concept (web app).

  7. Thanks, nice info about creative commons. It is helpful for those planning to use adsense on their websites or blogs and abiding by copyright laws in general.

  8. Hi, Thanks for this great list of creative commons licenses photos. One i ever use is http://creativecommons.photos there you have only cc and public domain license photos. At the moment, the website don't have a lot of photos, but the aviable photos are in a high quality.



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