Search for copyright-free images

Geography, my professional discipline, is an exceptionally visual subject that requires access to resources that illustrate spatial concepts and processes. Finding copyright free or public domain materials can be difficult within the growing number of online media resources. Two services help filter your search for public domain media, CC Search by the Creative Commons and Google Advanced Image search.

CCSearch (Creative Commons Search) http://search.creativecommons.org

CC Search provides options to look for media to use in commercial endeavors or open source projects. Enter a search term and choose a site to search like flickr or Google Images. Searching Google Images will return many more sources to chose from, including those from flickr. You can also search for media on blip.tv, jamendo, SpinXpress, and Yahoo.

The folks at Creative Commons have made searching for images a bit easier by building a plugin for the Firefox browser. The plugin adds an entry into Firefox’s search box so you don’t have to go to the CCSearch web site to start your image search.

Google Advanced Image Search handles searching by filtering your results by usage rights. On the search form you choose to filter your results by usage rights:

  • Labeled for reuse. Your results will only include images labeled with a license that allows you to copy and/or modify the image in ways specified in the license.
  • Labeled for commercial reuse. Your results will only include images labeled with a license that allows you to copy the image for commercial purposes, in ways specified in the license.
  • Labeled for reuse with modification. Your results will only include images labeled with a license that allows you to copy and modify the image in ways specified in the license.
  • Labeled for commercial reuse with modification. Your results will only include images labeled with a license that allows you to copy the image for commercial purposes and modify it in ways specified in the license.

It is wise to double check the license applied to the images if you use these services.

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About Michael Ritter PhD
Professor of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, science textbook author, educational technology blogger, podcaster, and freelance media consultant.

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