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Finding Open Access Images: Creative Commons

A Note of Caution

Types of Licenses

These are the types of licenses used on Creative Commons.  Check any photos you may want to use for combinations of these different restrictions.  Below is a quick guide to what each symbol/license means and their abbreviated equivalences.  These licences may be combined (except for the Public Domain/CC-0), such as "CC-BY-ND," meaning the work is under an "Attributive, Noncommercial" license.  Check out the Creative Commons website for more information about each license.

No Copyright (C0) - These works are unlicensed
Attributive (CC-BY) - Must give credit to the author

Noncommercial (CC-NC) - Can only be used for noncommercial purposes

No Derivative Works (CC-ND) - You cannot change the picture in any way

Share Alike (CC-SA) - If you modify the work in any way and want to share your new creation, you must relicense it under the same license that the original work was under so that others can use/change your derivative work

How to Properly Attribute Creative Commons Materials

Properly citing Creative Commons materials which include attribution as part of their license can be tricky. Here are the basics of what to include in your attribution, courtesy of Creative Commons Australia and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation:

  • credit the creator;
  • provide the title of the work;
  • provide the URL where the work is hosted;
  • indicate the type of license and provide a link to the license; and
  • keep intact any copyright notice associated with the work.

For more information on attribution and ideas on how to organize your attribution, including examples, click here for the full online PDF.

In addition, Creative Commons has made attribution easier by providing a page where you can download images of different CC tags to use in attribution lines.  Click here for the CC downloads page.

Other Websites under CC license


Video on Creative Commons

Flickr Creative Commons

Click to search through Creative Commons.

Use the Creative Commons Search engine to search other sites, such as Google Images or Fotopedia, using a Creative Commons filter.  This will allow you to search for photos with Creative Commons licensing on various sites.  Choose which site you want to search, type in your keyword, and start searching.  You may also choose to search specifically for commercial use and/or images which can be modified.  After you have started your search using the CC Search, you may continue searching from the new site - the filter will stay in place.



Click to search specific Creative Commons licenses

Creative Commons allows you to search open access images with different types of licensing options.  Click the image above and choose which type of license you are looking for (see the "Types of Licensing" box on this page for a quick guide to how each license can be used - there is a more detailed guide to these icons on the Creative Commons site).



Click for an advanced Creative Commons search

Choose the "Advanced Search" option on Flickr to search for images with all types of CC licenses.  This will allow you to do a wider search of CC images than searching for each license individually.



Click to search Behold 

Behold gives you the option to search images which are free to use, modify, and/or use commercially.  Once you imput a search term, Behold allows you to search for what the image "looks like" - what is inside the picture at the pixel level - such as "face," "night," "field," "city," etc.  This option enables you to better search for what is actually in the picture rather than simply relying on the picture's textual tag.



Click to search Compfight

Compfight allows you to search images with Creative Commons licenses and to download different sizes of the image onto your computer. 



Click to search Flickr Storm

You may use Flickr Storm to search for images under different Creative Commons licenses by choosing the "Advanced Search" option. Under "Advanced Search," you must choose a license.  Choosing "Search Creative Commons Photos..." is misleading; this option will actually search ALL photos and licenses - not just Creative Commons. Clicking on the "flickr storm" logo will bring up random search terms.  You cannot search all Creative Commons licenses at once, but you may select a photo and choose the "Open on Flickr" option to double check the license terms.  Some photos may have a "Download" option through which you may download the image directly onto your computer.  "Add to Tray" allows you to store photos you like or want to view later on a bar to the left of the search results.  This tray will stay in place as you continue searching for images.


Click to search Wylio

Use Wylio to find, resize, and download CC images with credit attached.  You may also use Wylio to embed the image onto a website or blog - Wylio will give you options for the picture's placement within text.  In order to use Wylio, you must log on to the site.  This may be done using a Google account, or, if you do not have a Google account, you may create a free account. NOTE: You may only download 5 pictures per month with a free account. If you wish to download more images, Wylio does have the option to upgrade to 125 pictures/mo for $2.99/mo, or 1,250 pictures/mo for $9.99/mo.

Creative Commons Photo

Upload your own photos or use photos found at this site using a CCO Creative Commons License. For License information, follow this link: