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Copyright and Fair Use Resources: Images

Resources for copyright and fair use questions

Copyright and Images

Why Use Free Images?

Just like with other media, in most cases images are protected under copyright by the work's creator. Reusing a copyright protected image without permission could be copyright infringement. To avoid infringement and respect intellectual property laws, it's best practice to use images that can be REUSED, REVISED, REMIXED, or REDISTRIBUTED. These include:

  • Public Domain works (copyright has expired)
  • United States government works (do not qualify for copyright protection)
  • Creative Commons licensed works (creators have specifically granted a license for others to reuse the content within specific limits)

What About Fair Use?

Fair use may be an option in some cases and it's important to perform a Fair Use Analysis for each image. Using an image from one of the REUSED, REVISED, REMIXED, or REDISTRIBUTED categories above if using a specific images is not necessary. 

Finding Free Images

Not all images in these collections are free for REUSE, REVISION, REMIXING, and REDISTRIBUTION. Be sure to check the license for each image for more details.  

  • Use the Advanced Image Search in Google to find "Free to Use and Share" images  
  • Body Positive Images
  • Disabled and Here Collection
    • This collection is a disability-led effort to provide free and inclusive stock photos shot from our own perspective, featuring disabled Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) across the Pacific Northwest.
  • Flickr
    • search and limit by Creative Commons licensed images
  • Gender Spectrum Collection
    • The Gender Spectrum Collection is a stock photo library featuring images of trans and non-binary models
  • Images of Empowerment
    • Free images of women’s lives and work, created by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and Getty Images.
  • Jopwell
    • Stock photos featuring Black, Latino/Hispanic, and Native American professionals. Most are free to use as long as the watermark is retained. Check specific licensing for more info.
  • Life Photo Archive
    • Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google.
  • Morguefile
    • user contributed photos licensed for creative uses
  • Nappy
    • Free high resolution photos of black and brown people
  • Open Image Collection
    • a resource of digital image collections from many sources. Consult each source for copyright and reuse restrictions
  • Pexels
    • stock photos which are free to use and share
  • Pixabay
    • a collection of Creative Commons or Pubic Domain licensed images
  • Reusable Art
    • public domain images from vintage drawings, books, and other media
  • Smithsonian Open Access
    • Download, share, and reuse millions of the Smithsonian’s images—right now, without asking. With new platforms and tools, you have easier access to nearly 3 million 2D and 3D digital items from our collections—with many more to come. This includes images and data from across the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo.
  • Unsplash
    • high quality non commercial photos
  • Wellcome Collection
    • Wellcome Images is one of the world's richest and most unique collections, with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science.
  • Wikimedia Commons
    • Creative Commons licensed images including large science, nature, and culture collections 
  • WOCintechchat
    • Free stock photos of women of color working in tech settings.