Knowing about the Various Image Rights

We know that you want to jump right to our favourite websites for free image search. But for now, let’s take a look at different licence types and how you can spot them when looking for free images.

For those who can’t wait, here comes a little overview with links to the free image search sites that we will introduce you to below.

21)  OpenClipArt
22)  Freepik
23)  FreePixels
24)  Piqza
25)  MorgueFile
26)  openphoto
27)  FreeFoto
28)  FreeMediaGOO
29)  bigfoto
30)  FreePhotosBank

Image Licence Types

Creative Commons is a widely used licensing system by a nonprofit organisation. It facilitates and standardises the often complicated licensing agreements. And so the communication between creators and users of artistic content.
 
Their most common types of licences are the Creative Commons. The following infographic explains well what they’re all about.
Infographic Creative Commons
Creative Commons is updating its licence conditions from time to time. That’s why you see different licence versions like 2.0, 3.0 or the newest 4.0 in the short text.
Don’t be confused by that. In any case, the older version will remain valid.

Public Domain Images

On top of that, there exists the so called “Public Domain Dedication” (CC0 1.0). It means that images are not protected by any licence.

Basically, it’s the public that owns these materials. You can thus use all of them for free, without a source, for private and commercial purposes.

A possible source of problems: You can’t tell if the person who uploaded the work and waived the rights, is in fact the creator.

Spotting Licence Types of Free Images

So where can you spot which licence is applicable?
If a picture has a CC Licence, you should find a “Short Text” close to it on the website of the creator. This text usually contains a link to the licence agreement (e.g. CC BY-SA 3.0).
Man Binoculars Dessert

Some websites also work with their own licence agreements.

We researched them for all of our favourite sites for free image search. You simply need to check out the links that we put to their usage terms (Licences and Use).

If there is no clear indication of the copyright it’s better if you keep looking for a different image. Or contact the creator in person and ask for permission.

Also, the websites often state specific requirements for commercial vs non-commercial use. For example: You often can include the picture in your blog for free. But not to use it as magazine cover photo and print it 20,000 times.

Again, every site has different terms here but a rule of thumb could beThe more commercial the usage of media is the larger your potential liability.

But to be sure you always have to read each website’s usage terms!

Our Favourite Free Image Search Sites at Your Fingertips

It is easy to get confused when it comes to websites to help you with your free image search. To save you time and trouble, we put together a comprehensive list with the most useful sites out there on the world wide web.

You can easily compare them with our 3 criteria:

  1. Can you use a search function to find the images you are looking for?
  2. Can you see the free images in different categories?
  3. Do you need to sign up to access the free image search?

Search Enginges for Free Images

Free Image Search Engines

1) Google Images

“The big search engine”. What many people do not know:

With the Advanced Image Search, you can target images with specific licences. Or simply go to the Google Image Search and select your wanted licence type under “Tools/Usage Rights”.

The results are from various sources and usually CC licences (see infographic). Still, you should check the copyright and owner’s rights of the selected image before you use it.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: No

2) Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia is the “media department” of Wikipedia and a good address for free image search.

Wikimedia Commons has millions of royalty-free pictures usable under Creative Commons terms. In the archive, there are currently more than 38 million media files.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: No

3) Flickr

Flickr is the largest photo community on the internet. The “Advanced Search” gives you the option to search only for content with Creative Commons licences.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: No

4) Compfight

Compfight is a picture search engine that uses Flickr as its source. When searching, look on the left sidebar. There is also an option to filter specific licences.

Note: A few chargeable photos appear on top before the search results.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: No

  • Registration Required: No

5) Photo Pin

Photo Pin is another free image search engine sourcing its photos from Flickr. Like in Photo Pin, use the left bar to select your desired licence type.

Note: The site also advertises for paid photos.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: No

  • Registration Required: No

6) Every Stock Photo

Every Stock Photo searches for photos with a free licence from different sources. It includes, amongst others, a community where you can collect, tag and comment on photos.

Under “advanced search” you can limit your search query to certain licence types. The site is well structured and clear. Currently, the archive contains more than 29 million stock photos.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: No

7) IconFinder

The IconFinder searches the Internet for icons of all kinds. In the menu on the left, here is the option of switching to “Price/Free” to filter for specific licences.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: No

Girl Camera Street

8) Pixabay

Pixabay is a community for sharing “Public Domain Images” (see explanation above). The page is great for free image search: It’s attractive, well stocked and has an excellent navigation function.
Without registration, you still can access all images besides the highest resolution. You just have to enter a code to confirm the download.
Note: In the first row the results show chargeable pictures from “shutterstock”.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: No

9) Picsearch

Picsearch is a technology that constantly crawls the web to create its own image index. Like Google Image Search it provides you with links to third party websites. That’s why the images may have all kinds of different licences.

Note: The images that show up in the search results are not automatically free to use. Make sure to check out the terms of each website displayed in the results!

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: No

  • Registration Required: No

Databases for Free Images

Free Image Search Databases

10) 123rf

123RF is a royalty free usable digital media library. It offers many commercial and editorial images, video, audio clips, logos and graphics.

Under the hidden section “Free Downloads” there are currently 30,000 free files. The quality of the images is very professional. A free download is only possible in low resolution (up to 450 x 350 px) which should be enough for web projects.

Their Free Image Licence allows the use for advertising and design, on blogs and in collages. To credit the owner is not required in the licence terms but to be on the safe side you should add a reference anyway.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: No

  • Registration Required: Yes

11) Freerange Stock

Freerange Stock is a platform for free stock photos and textures. The photos are either from Freerange Stock itself or from the photographic community. According to their terms, you can use the images for commercial and private purposes.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: No

  • Registration Required: Yes

12) Free Images

Free Images is a subsidiary of the fee-based Getty Images and another database for free image search. Here you can find over 350,000 pictures from more than 30.000 photographers, some of them in high resolution.

The images have a royalty free licence and you may use them for digital and print formats. For commercial use of the image, you should seek the permission to reproduce from the owner.

Note: You again will see some chargeable photos before your free search results.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: Yes

13) Freedigitalphotos.net

At Free Digital Photos you can download free stock photos, e.g. for websites or advertising. Images are either produced by the in-house photographers or come from the community.

The images have a default royalty free licence. Free pictures are only available in the 400×400 px format. But this should be enough for most web projects. A source reference is required.

Note: There are some paid stock photos on top of the free search results.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: No

14) PhotoRack

PhotoRack offers over 27,000 images in 149 categories. Unfortunately, we haven’t found a search function so far. But all images are categorised well and may be used for private and commercial purposes.

  • Search Function: No

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: No

15) RGBstock

In RGBstock is a free image search database with more than 100,000 stock images are available for personal and commercial use. You can include them in web pages, blogs and under certain conditions in printed products.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: Yes

Girl Camera

16) PIQS

PIQS is a German photo community. All pictures are free for personal (web) projects also if used for commercial purposes. The images carry a Creative Commons name registration licence.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: Yes

17) 4 FREE PHOTOS

4freephotos was founded by a group of photographers who make their photos public domain available. In 4freephotos you can find public domain photos for commercial and personal use. In return, a link to their website is required.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: No

18) Pixelio

Pixelio is another German website hosting a free database for royalty free pictures. For your free image search you can currently choose from more than 500,000 pictures.

There are two types of licences: (1) editorial and (2) editorial/commercial. Both prohibit direct sales of products featuring the images. Also, you always need to include a reference to the owner and source (e.g. ©Photographer’s Name / PIXELIO).

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: Yes

19) Dreamstime

Dreamstime is one of the world’s leading agencies for stock photography. Besides professional fee photos there is a section for free pictures on the website. There are more than 930,000 files.

Images have a Dreamtime’s RF-LL licence (royalty free) but you cannot use them for commercial purposes. The maximum number of printed copies is restricted to 10,000 units.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: Yes

20) Stock Free Images

Stock Free Images is a Dreamstime project with over 1.6 million royalty free stock images and illustrations. All pictures have Dreamtime’s royalty free licence.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: Yes

21) OpenClipArt

Openclipart is a community for vector clipart. The collection is free for commercial and personal use. All images are public domain.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: No

22) Freepik

Freepik is a free image search engine for photos, vectors, icons and illustrations. Freepik also owns and creates free content.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: No

23) FreePixels

On FreePixels you can find and download images for personal and commercial. You don’t need to register but in your publication, you have to provide a reference to FreePixels.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: No

Man Camera Beach

24) Piqza

Piqza is a German platform with royalty free images for personal and commercial use. You’ll find thousands of pictures without licence across around 30 categories.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: No

25) MorgueFile

MorgueFile calls itself a site “for creatives, by creatives”.

There you can choose from over 350,000 stock photos for personal and commercial purposes. You have access without an account and are ok to modify the pictures. If you don’t alter the image, include a reference to the owner (e.g. Photo by Photographer’s Name at Morguefile.com).

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: No

  • Registration Required: No

26) openphoto

Open Photo Project is a small platform where photographers share their pictures. The specific licences vary but many times creators request a contribution link.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: No

27) FreeFoto

FreeFoto offers you a selection of over 132,000 images for free if you are a non-commercial client. Images carry a Creative Commons no derivatives, attribution licence (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). For above web size images, you can choose from other chargeable commercial licences.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: No

28) FreeMediaGOO

FreeMediaGOO is a nice site where you can find high-resolution pictures in various categories. You are free to use them for commercial and personal purposes without any obligation to credit the images. The only drawback is that we could not find a search function so far.

  • Search Function: No

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: No

29) bigfoto

Bigphoto is an agency offering royalty free pictures for personal and commercial projects. In return, you need to put a link to the website.

  • Search Function: No

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: No

30) FreePhotosBank

On FreePhotosBank you can choose from various categories or use the advanced search to look for specific keywords. You can download the photos for free but have to accredit the site on your publications.

Note: Some of the pictures that you can see are chargeable Dreamstime stock photos.

  • Search Function: Yes

  • Categories: Yes

  • Registration Required: No

Here you go! Our 30 favourite websites for free image search right at your fingertips.

Now, just lean back and let the professionals do the work for you!

Bird Camera Garden

We hope that this guide provides you with all the resources and ideas you need. Be it for your next article, social media post or whatever you currently have in the pipeline.

Do you want to kick-start your career in
digital marketing?

Then make sure to check out our other blog posts for more useful guides and information about our digital marketing trainings.