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Free Images: Creative Commons and Public Domain

This guide provides information about sites offering free access to images for publications, teaching and other academic uses.

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This guide will introduce you to image resources and collections which are available for free and offered under creative common licenses or are available in the public domain. Always, however, there are terms of use and conditions. It is necessary to:

1. Read the copyright instructions carefully for each resource listed.

2. Cite the sources for your image properly and  give credit to those who have offered these resources - it is good etiquette for works in the Public Domain, ensures academic integrity and it is often a requirement for works under the creative commons license.



Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share.[1] The organization has released several copyright-licenses known as Creative Commons licenses free of charge to the public. URL:  Accessed: November 2015


For a full description of CC licenses and the various restrictive uses and symbols see


Works that are not protected by copyright are said to be in the Public Domain, and you are free to use them in any way you choose. That means no restrictions on copying and adapting, no need to seek permission, and no uncertainty about your rights as a user. There is also no legal requirement to attribute works in the Public Domain to their creators, but it is good etiquette in doing so and part of ensuring academic integrity.

A work enters the Public Domain when its copyright expires.