Educating students (and lets face it, ourselves) about copyright and digital citizenship has become increasingly more important as more and more teaching resources are found online. While creating original image content may still be the best way to gather images, it is not always practical or even geographically realistic. Copyright-free and public domain images often make the creative process easer by allowing for manipulation without needing to cite the source. However, there are times when when you can’t find what you need in the public domain or want to teach a lesson on digital citizenship. In these situations, searching for images with a Creative Commons license can be useful. Our top ten list of imagery for creative use ranges from “no known copyright” (among the least restrictive) to Creative Commons (creative permissions vary).
1. The Commons This Flickr database contains collections from museums and libraries from around the world. The images placed in these collections have “no known copyright” and therefore are free to use without attribution.
2. Public Domain Sherpa This is a one stop shop with a great collection of image sources mostly in the public domain. This site also does a great job explaining copyright information in layman’s terms.
3. Morgue File “Public image archive for creatives by creatives” This fabulous site is full of easily searchable images that require no attribution.
4. Pics4Learning These copyright-friendly images have been donated by teachers, students, and amateur photographers. Explore the other features and tutorials to help get you started.
5. PD Photo Most of the thousands of images on this site are in public domain, but not all. Before using any image, read the license under each picture.
6. Creative Commons and Wikimedia Commons These databases are great places to access all sorts of media that you can incorporate into creative projects. Since both public domain and creative commons images can turn up in a search, be sure to check to see if the image requires attribution.
7. Photos8 This site offers thousands of images free to use for any purpose. The site author doesn’t require attribution but would love to see the creative outcomes.
8. Creativity 103 This source contains images and video ranging from abstract design to architecture. You are free to download and use any of the images as long as you credit the website.
9. Compflight and FlickrCC These two great tools can help you quickly find images licensed under Creative Commons on Flickr. Another Flickr option is the advanced search to find images to modify or build upon. Download directions for use with your students here.
10. Google Advanced Image Search This search engine is useful for helping you find specific images such as line drawing or photo content with “safe search” filtering. To find Creative Commons images, select the search terms usage rights “labeled for reuse” or “reuse with modification”.
Oh, and a couple of things that you will want to explore . . .
Creative Project Image Search We gathered many resources listed here along with a few others to create a custom search engine for public domain, copyright-friendly, and Creative Commons images. This tool could be something you add to student bookmarks to make image searching easy.