Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Become an OU student

Download this course

Share this free course

Looking globally: the future of education
Looking globally: the future of education

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Finding copyright-cleared images

Can I use any image I find on the Internet?

Not unless you have explicit permission from the copyright owner of the image. The majority of images available online are fully copyright protected. Just because you can access an image does not mean you can freely use it as you wish. All images are protected by copyright.

In order to copy, share, manipulate, reproduce or use an image you will need to gain permission from the copyright owner, or make use of copyright cleared material. A good way to do this is to look for images with Creative Commons licensing.

Where can I look for Creative Commons images?

Photo sharing websites such as Flickr [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] are a good way to source images for your work.

During your search for images you may come across some symbols referring to Creative Commons. Creative Commons allows you to use images under certain conditions.

There are four types of Creative Commons licenses:

  • Attribution: Others can copy, distribute, display and perform this copyrighted work – and derivative works based upon it – but only if they give credit the way that is requested.

  • Share Alike: Others can distribute derivative works only under a licence identical to the licence that governs this work.

  • Non-Commercial: Others can copy, distribute, display and perform the work – and derivative works based upon it - but for non-commercial purposes only.

  • No Derivative Works: Others copy, distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work, not derivative works based upon it.

How can I search Flickr for Creative Commons images?

You can search for images on Flickr according to the type of Creative Commons licence they have been assigned.

To search for images go to Flickr's Creative Commons page. Do not use the first search box located in the top right hand corner of the screen as this will search the whole of Flickr.

You will need to decide which licence you want to search for images under. Click on the ‘see more’ option next to your chosen licence. Then type your search term into the search box. This will return all images posted on Flickr under that Creative Commons licence for your search term.

Remember to credit your source

Regardless of what licence the image is under, the same elements apply across them all. You should always:

  • credit the creator (copyright owner)

  • provide the title of the work

  • provide the URL

  • indicate the type of licence it has been made available under

  • keep intact any copyright notices placed by the copyright holder.