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.
I’m always looking for different images to help communicate the concepts I’m teaching. The images I saved were taking up a ton of space on my computer and really slowing it down. Plus it wasn’t very efficient for locating what I needed in the spur of the moment. Then I discovered the Vi.sualize.us website as a way to catalog and collect images. If you like Delicious, you will love Vi.sualize.us for bookmarking images you find on the web.
Vi.sualize.us is a free social bookmarking site that allows you to surf the web as normal, and bookmark any images you find along the way. Images can be tagged so that you can search through your bookmarks to find what you want for your next art lesson. It’s very easy to use, just add a bookmark button on your browser or install a Firefox plugin and start surfing the web. When you see an inspiring image you want to remember just right click (control + click for mac users) or use the button in your browser. There is even a free app called Cooliris for your iPhone or iPod Touch that will let you utilize your images on the go. The feature that really sets Vi.sualize.us apart from other image sites is the “Safe For Work” feature. Just click the “Safe ON/Safe OFF” button in the top right-hand corner of your screen to filter out inappropriate images while you browse.
Below are some of the features Vi.sualize.us offers:
- Bookmark images you want to remember on the Internet
- Safe ON/Safe OFF filter for work environments
- Bulk edit
- Comment on images
- Add tags to pictures so you can easily search for them again
- WordPress plugin to display your images on blog or website
- A watchlist to keep track of images posted by others you want to follow
- Can search with the “And”, “Or” and the negation (“!”) operators. For example, you could search for still life apples or oranges.
You can check out what The Teaching Palette is bookmarking by clicking on this link. We also want to see the amazing images you discover around the web. You can share images by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your Vi.sualize.us name or by adding it to the comments section below. Then we will add your name to our “watchlist”.
Below is a short video that shows what the Vi.sualize.us site looks like and how to tag and save an image. There’s no sound, but a picture is worth a thousand words.
(Trouble viewing this video? Try this link.)