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Open Education: Images & Illustrations

A "getting started" guide overviewing open, editable, and lower-cost textbooks and open teaching & learning resources for faculty, students, and librarians.

Finding Openly Licensed Photos and Illustrations

Google Advanced Image Search (Scroll all the way down to the bottom to "Usage Rights") 

Usage rights correspond to Creative Commons Licenses (see the abbreviations above in red) which allow free use and sharing with attribution, but not always modification or commercial use.

Other Ways to Locate Openly-Licensed Images

Creative Commons (Cultural Heritage) Search (beta) (Images only with an emphasis on openly licensed cultural heritage images)

CreativeCommons Search Search for openly licensed images in: Europeana, Flickr, Pixabay (public domain), Open Clip Art Library, and Wikimedia Commons. (Also includes options to find music & video)

Wikimedia Commons (Terms: CC and public domain)

Creative Commons Image Directories (Terms: CC and public domain)

The Noun Project (search CC-licensed and public domain icons by keyword)

Figshare (Terms: CC-BY Licensed) research-related images, data etc. 

Compfight (Terms: CC and Commercial) 

PhotosForClass (Creative Commons licensed images from Flickr -- required citation information is automagically added!!)

These are just a few of the many places to find openly-licensed images or illustrations.

Don't forget to attribute CC-licensed images ------>

Public Domain images

* Public Domain: Works whose exclusive intellectual property rights have expired, have been waived, forfeited, or are inapplicable.

Find more information on the Public Domain

OpenClip Art (No cost. No attribution required)

Unsplash (No cost. No attribution required)

Getty public domain content (Attribution required: "Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program")

New York Public Library

Library of Congress (click on "Rights and Restrictions")

Various public domain image websites (Terms: public domain, but read the fine print)

Nearly public domain

Pixabay & Picsbuffet (Terms: Pixabay license). Video about Picsbuffet

Pexels "The world's first inclusive free stock photo & library"

Pxhere CC0 images. No attribution required.

Permission REQUIRED

ImageBase (Virginia Tech Special Collections)  Request permission

Reverse image search: TinEye  and  Google Images Reverse Search

Creating Required Attributions for using Openly-Licensed Works

Attribution is ALWAYS REQUIRED when using works that have a Creative Commons license. Learn how to attribute CC-licensed works by following these best practices -- or use a browser plug in such as OpenAttribute to help you.

The most common forms of attribution include the three elements, two of which are hyperlinked:

(c) Author Name  "Name of work [hyperlinked to where you found the work]"  License [hyperlinked to license]

For example:

Red umbrella against blue sky      

SAMPLE ATTRIBUTION: (c) Quinn Dombrowski "Red and blue" CC BY-SA 2.0


License terms on some sites (this one is from may appear as Creative Commons icons or appear when a hyperlink is moused over.

Screenshot showing "Some rights reserved" hyperlinked to a Creative Commons license from underneath a photo on

Learn how to attribute CC-licensed works by following these best practices -- or use a browser add on such as OpenAttribute to help you.

Diversity and inclusion image collections (a selection)

Warm thanks to Heather Blicher for suggesting many of these resources.