By Gary Nugent

Images break up the monotony of long reams of text and add visual impact to your posts and pages.

But where do you get your images from?

How Often Do You Use Google Images To Find Images?

website imagesMy guess is that at least some of the images you use on your sites are pulled from Google Images. After all, it’s easy to simply run a search for an image that portrays your keyword or post topic.

However, what we all tend to forget is that a lot of the images that Google Images show are in fact copyrighted. Google don’t flag images in any way, providing a nebulous “this image may be subject to copyright” comment.

The only way to know is if there’s a copyright notice embedded directly in the image or if you visit the host page for the image, there might be something there that indicates that the image is copyright or not.

While some people use images and plead ignorance of copyright when challenged, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and assume that copyright does exist.

But, as we all know, it’s easy to cut corners and simply put something from Google Images on our own blogs. After all, if it’s on the internet, then it must be free, right?

When Using The Wrong Image Causes Problems

The problem arises when you inadvertently use an image that might be owned by someone, or some entity, that goes all out to protect its intellectual property and copyright. Getty images is a good example. As would any of the stock image libraries be.

Don’t think it can happen to you? Then read this article.

Now read these articles:

Getty Images Lawsuits: Enforcement Or Trolling?
Pursued by Getty Images or another photograph library?
Image Copyright Infringement And Getty Images Scam Letter

You’ll find many other similar articles on Google if you do a search.

Conscientious webmasters will pay for images from stock libraries. These cost at most a couple of dollars each for web-sized images. But the costs can certainly add up. Sometimes, a webmaster can simply use images he takes himself.

Another place to get images is Flickr where many are subject to the Creative Commons License and can be freely used (but sometimes with due accreditation).

Where To Get Free-To-Use Images

There are 20 resources where you can get free-to-use images:

1. Getty Images

Some good news from Getty Images: Getty Images makes 35 million images free to use. This involves embedding a player in your posts (like with YouTube videos) that will include the full copyright information for the image as well as a link back to the image’s dedicated licensing page on the Getty Images website. You need to hover over images and look for the </> icon. Only images with this icon can be embedded are are strictly for non-commercial use.


However, if you just want raw images, then take at look at the rest of the resources below.

2. Google Images

Yes, you can use some images on Google Images, but you need to search for images by usage rights. Once you’ve run your search, click the Search Tools button on the search screen and select the Usage Rights option. Then pick the “labeled…” option that best suits your need. Don’t use the default “not filtered by license” as that will return images that have all types of rights (including copyright images).


3. Stock.XCHNG

You can find some good images here, but there’s also a lot of so-so photos. The site lists premium photos (that you pay for) from other photo libraries first, so you need to look at the Results for “<your search term> on section.


4. Flickr

You should only use images under the Creative Commons license and maybe under the Non-Commercial license as well.


5. StockFreeImages

Just found this one so can’t comment on the quality of the images. However, they have over 900,000 images, royalty-free stock photos and illustrations which can be licensed free of charge.

© Dinna79 | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

6. Free Images UK

A smaller library of 13,500 free images. Probably harder to find good quality images here as a lot look like snapshots. Accreditation must be given for all images used.

7. MorgueFile Free Image Archive

300,000+ quality images free to use. Many come from the stock image libraries that provide free images from time to time. Attribution is not required for images.



Images are broken down into several categories so it’s easier to find what you’re looking for. The images are good quality. Only smaller images are free to download (400 pixels wide) and accreditation must be given the the image creator.
By Stuart Miles from

9. OpenPhoto

These guys have been around since 1998 and have built up quite a collection. The site is minimalist and photo quality is variable. Searches don’t always return a lot of photos. Image attribution is required.
© Sarah Klockars-Clauser for

10. StockVault

This has a very high quality collection of about 44,000 free stock photos, as well as logo templates, clip arts, textures and backgrounds. It’s the perfect site to find graphics for your website, then, but Stockvault’s images are free for personal, non-commercial use only.

Splash over bottle

11. Unprofound

There are no significant restrictions on the use of the photos here. This site is strictly non-profit, so you won’t be hassled by the usual collection of annoying ads.


12. Free Media Goo

Weird name but has a small collection of free-to-use images. There’s only 6 categories with 15-20 images in each, but there are some interesting background images here.


13. Pixel Perfect Digital

This site offers free stock photos, backgrounds, textures and other design elements. The images are provided under a Creative Commons Attribution License. you can remix, tweak images, even commercially, so long as you credit for the original image. There are over 4,000 stock photos, organized in categories from Abstract and Animals to Places and Transportation.

UPDATE: This site is no longer online.

Coin Stacks Macro

14. Free Range Stock

You should find something of use here, though it might take a bit of digging as the search doesn’t always return images related to your keyword. You need to sign up for a free account before you get access to the images. Attribution is not required but is appreciated.

Phone Operator

15. Wikimedia Commons

This is a part of the Wikipedia umbrella project. Users are allowed to use any of the site’s photos, audio, videos, and other media freely. There’s some good stuff here.

By © Ralf Roletschek – Fahrradtechnik und Fotografie (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

17. U.S. Government Graphics and Photos

This is a hub site that links to other U.S. government sites which contain hundreds of thousands free and public domain images in categories such as forests, animals, birds, Air Force, Army, coast guard, crops, fish, fire, fruits, geology, health, lab research, mammals, money, mountains, NASA, Navy, parks, plants, Presidents, space, storms, volcanos, war, wildlife, and whole lot more. You need to read the disclaimers on each site before using any images. Some images are in the public domain or are U.S. government works and may be used without permission or fee; other images may have licenses/restrictions attached.


18. PD Photo

A sizable collection of mostly public domain photos (so no attribution necessary). A few photos do have licenses attached so make sure to check each photo for these before you use them.


19. Pixabay

This is a simple, easy to navigate site with almost 65,000 high quality photos and illustrations, all of which can be used freely for any purpose, without attribution.


20. Image Suite

ImageSuiteWhile you now have plenty of sources for copyright-free images to use on your websites, searching for just the right image can still take a fair amount of time (unless you’re not fussy of course!).

ImageSuite is a software app that searches through 6 creative commons libraries for 100% free images that do not require any attribution. Those libraries are Google Images, Flickr, Pixabay. Europeana, WikiMedia Commons and OpenCliart.

This puts 1,000s of high-quality images at your fingertips. Just put in your keyword in the search box and within few seconds ImageSuite will return a range of high definition quality images you can adapt and use in your blog post. Navigating through the image list is easy.

The software also allows you to edit images (no need ofr PhotoShop), add photo effect filters, lighting effects and Warhol-like mosaics (the software actually contains dozens of effects).

On top of that, you can add text, borders, stickers, overlays and more.

In short, ImageSuite allows you to fully customize images to your individual tastes and provides ultimate control over what images your readers will see when they visit your site.

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