How to Find Copyright Free Images: Your Easy Guide

As a journalist, you know the importance of using high-quality images to accompany your articles. However, finding the right image can be a challenge, especially when you need to make sure it’s copyright free.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to find copyright free images, saving you time and money while avoiding legal issues.


Understanding Copyright and Free Images

Before we dive into where to find copyright free images, it’s important to understand the basics of copyright law. In general, images are protected by copyright as soon as they are created, meaning that the creator has exclusive rights to use, distribute, and sell the image.

However, there are ways to use images without infringing on copyright. One option is to find images that are considered to be in the public domain, meaning that the copyright has expired or the image was never subject to copyright in the first place. Another option is to use images that are released under a Creative Commons license, which allows for varying levels of use and attribution.

It’s important to note that not all images labeled as “free” or “public domain” are actually free to use. Some may still be subject to copyright, while others may have restrictions on usage or require attribution. When using images, always check the licensing terms and make sure you have the appropriate permissions.

Best Sources for Copyright Free Images

Now that you understand the difference between copyright free and royalty-free images, let’s dive into the best sources for finding copyright free images.

1. Unsplash

Unsplash is one of the most popular websites for finding high-quality, copyright free images. The website allows you to search for images by keyword and offers a wide variety of categories to choose from. All images on Unsplash are free to use, with no attribution required.

2. Pexels

Similar to Unsplash, Pexels offers a large selection of free, high-quality images that can be used for personal or commercial purposes. The website has a user-friendly search system that allows you to filter images by color, category, and popularity. All images on Pexels are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which means they are free to use without attribution.

3. Pixabay

Pixabay is another great resource for finding copyright free images and videos. The website offers over 1.6 million free images and videos and allows you to search by keyword or browse by category. All images on Pixabay are released under the Creative Commons CC0 license, which means they are free to use for commercial purposes with no attribution required.

4. Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that offers a database of images and other media that can be used for free, with attribution required in some cases. The website allows you to search for images from a variety of sources, including Flickr and Google Images. When using images from Creative Commons, be sure to check the specific license requirements for each image.

5. Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is a database of over 64 million free, public domain images and other media files. The website is operated by the Wikimedia Foundation and allows you to search for images by keyword or browse by category. All images on Wikimedia Commons are free to use for any purpose without attribution.

Tips and Tricks for Finding Copyright Free Images

Finding copyright free images can be a daunting task, especially if you’re new to the concept. However, there are some tips and tricks that can help you find the right images for your needs while avoiding any legal issues.

Use Search Filters

When searching for copyright free images, always use filters to refine your search. This can help you eliminate images that have copyright restrictions or are not suitable for your needs.

Most online image libraries offer the option to search for images based on licensing, usage rights, and other relevant criteria. For instance, you can search for Creative Commons images or images that are in the public domain.

Understand Licensing Terms

Before using any image, always read the licensing terms carefully to ensure that you are not violating any copyright laws. Pay attention to the type of license the image has, whether it’s royalty-free, Creative Commons, or public domain.

Also, make sure you’re adhering to any usage restrictions specified by the author or copyright holder. Some images may require attribution, while others may not allow commercial use.

Create Your Own Images

If you can’t find copyright free images that meet your needs, consider creating your own. This can be a great option if you have the skills and equipment to do so.

You don’t need to be a professional photographer to create your own images. With a good camera and some basic knowledge of photography, you can easily take high-quality images that are unique to your content.

Use Reverse Image Search

If you have an image, but you are not sure if it’s copyrighted or not, you can use reverse image search tools to find out. There are several online tools that allow you to upload an image and find out where it’s been used and under what license.

Avoid Using Watermarked Images

Watermarked images are not copyright free, even if they are available for download. These images are protected by copyright, and you can only use them if you have purchased the appropriate license or obtained permission from the copyright holder.

Avoid using watermarked images in your content, as this can lead to legal issues and damage your reputation as a professional.

By following these tips and tricks, you can find and use copyright free images without any trouble. Remember to always read the terms of service and usage rights carefully and use filters to refine your search. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, consider creating your own images or using reverse image search tools.

Alternatives to Stock Photos

While stock photos can be a great resource, sometimes you need something a little more unique for your content. Here are some alternative options to consider:

Creating Your Own Imagery

If you have the time and resources, creating your own imagery can be a great way to ensure your content is truly original. Invest in a good quality camera and consider taking a photography course to improve your skills. You can also use graphic design software to create custom illustrations and graphics.

Public Domain Images

Public domain images are those that have no copyright restrictions and are free to use for any purpose. Websites like Public Domain Pictures and the Library of Congress offer a wide range of public domain images that you can use without worrying about legal issues.

Creative Commons Images

Creative Commons is a licensing system that allows creators to make their work available for others to use with certain restrictions. Websites like Flickr and Wikimedia Commons offer a range of images that are available under various Creative Commons licenses, so be sure to check the specific requirements for each image before using it.

Custom Illustrations

If you’re looking for something truly unique, consider commissioning a custom illustration from a freelance artist. Websites like Upwork and Fiverr offer a range of talented illustrators who can create custom illustrations to fit your specific needs and style.

Editing and Using Copyright Free Images

Once you’ve found copyright-free images, the next step is to edit and use them to fit your content needs. Here are some tips:

Properly Crediting and Attributing Images

When using copyright-free images, it’s important to provide proper attribution to the creator. This not only gives credit where it’s due, but it can also prevent any legal issues down the line. Make sure to include the creator’s name or username and a source link to the original image.

Resizing and Cropping Images

When resizing or cropping images, be sure to do so in a way that doesn’t distort or blur the image. It’s also important to consider the aspect ratio of the image so that it fits well in your content. You can use free online image editors, such as Canva or Pixlr, to resize or crop your images to the desired dimensions.

Using Filters and Effects

If you’re looking to add some creativity to your images, you can use filters and effects to enhance their visual appeal. However, it’s important to use them in moderation so that the original image is still recognizable. Avoid using filters that completely change the color or tone of the image.

Creating Unique Images

If you’re unable to find copyright-free images that perfectly fit your content, consider creating your own unique images. You can use your smartphone or a digital camera to take pictures or create graphics using free design software, such as Canva or GIMP. By creating your own images, you can ensure that they’re truly original and fit your content needs.

Copyright Free Image Resources

There are several resources available for finding copyright-free images that you can use in your articles, blog posts, or any other project. Below are some great options to explore:

UnsplashA free stock photo website with a vast collection of high-resolution images. You can use these images for any purpose, including commercial projects.
PexelsAnother excellent source of free stock photos. Pexels has a wide range of images, including lifestyle, nature, and technology.
Creative CommonsThe Creative Commons website is a great resource for finding images covered by CC licenses. You can search for free images and filter by different license types.
Getty ImagesWhile Getty Images is primarily a paid service, they also offer a section of free photos that can be used for non-commercial purposes.

These are just a few of the many resources available for finding copyright-free images. Remember to read the usage terms carefully before using any image, and always give credit where it’s due.

FAQ: Answers to Your Copyright Free Image Questions

As you navigate the world of copyright free imagery, you may have some questions. Here are some common FAQs to help guide you.

What is a royalty-free image?

A royalty-free image is an image that can be used for commercial or personal projects without the need for paying royalties or additional fees. However, it’s important to note that the term “royalty-free” doesn’t mean the image is free to use; it simply means that after paying a one-time fee, the user can use the image for an unlimited number of times without paying additional fees.

What is the difference between copyright-free and public domain?

Copyright-free images are images that are not protected by copyright and can be used freely, often with certain restrictions. Public domain images, on the other hand, are images that have either had their copyright expire or have been released into the public domain, meaning they can be used without any restrictions.

Do I need to provide attribution for copyright-free images?

While it’s not always required to provide attribution for copyright-free images, it’s best practice to do so. Attribution gives credit to the creator and helps others find the source of the image. Be sure to check the specific license of the image to see if attribution is required.

Can I sell products that use copyright-free images?

Yes, you can use copyright-free images in products that are sold for profit. However, it’s important to check the specific license of the image to ensure that commercial use is allowed.

How do I know if an image is copyright-free?

There are several ways to determine if an image is copyright-free. You can look for images labeled “public domain” or “CC0,” which means they are free to use without attribution. Alternatively, you can search for images that have a Creative Commons license, which often have some restrictions but can still be used for free.

What if I accidentally use a copyrighted image?

If you accidentally use a copyrighted image, it’s important to take action immediately. Remove the image from your website or project and contact the owner to apologize and potentially work out a licensing agreement. Ignoring the issue can lead to legal trouble down the line.

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