Best resources for copyright free images

by Simon

An exhaustive list of the best online resources for copyright free cliparts and photos for commercial online and offline usage.

Images are an important part of any online article. Text only without photos or clip arts looks boring and doesn't attract readers - it may even drive them away on first glance. But where can we find suitable images? Not only since SOPA, ACTA and PIPA, novel strict copyright protecting legal bills, using images - e.g. from Google Image Search - without permission of the copyright holder often results in dramatically high fines!

But there's a simple solution to that: use copyright free public domain images ... or if your desired object is not available as such, use images under a Creative Commons attribution license. The second suggestion requires you to mention photographer and source of the file adjacent to the image.

Here are the best image resources known to mankind

Beginning with pure public domain databases

Top 10 image resources

    The biggest collection of quality public domain images. No attribution required, no registration for download of high resolution images. Simply great!
    An incredible vast library for clip arts, that can either be downloaded as PNG- or as scalable SVG-files. Commercial use allowed, 100% public domain and no registration required.
  3. Compfight
    An improved Flickr search: It's not a source of public domain, but you'll find anything you need under a Creative Commons license, even for commercial use.
  4. (stock.xchng)
    More than 250.000 royalty free photos about any topic. Free registration and attribution required.
  5. Wiki Comons
    10.000.000+ images and diagrams under various Creative Commons licenses; also public domain, but mostly attribution required. Quality reaches from excellent to poor.
  6. morgueFile
    About 200.000 photos free for virtually any use. Quality is a tiny issue here, so finding the best shot can be a bit tiresome.
  7. Flickr
    No need for explanations: on Flickr you'll find anything. Use extended search and select the option "Creative Commons" to get what you desire.
  8. Deviantart
    A strong  photographer and designer community. All image are under user selected licenses. It's a stunning resource, but be careful and always read the requirements for each image!
    Excellent collection of public domain photos, including some extremely high resolution photos, that require payment for downloading (up to 100 MB per image!).
    Link collection of official US agency image libraries: NASA, FWS, NOAA, etc. Source of millions and millions of photos.

More image resources in alphabetical order

Look here, if the above mentioned sources are exhausted. The following websites are rather small, but still, here and there you might find just what you are looking for.

    Ca. 1.000 photos. Attribution required.
    Abstract images
    600+ photos mainly about nature.
    Various textures: metal, wood, ...
    Again: 2.000+ textures.
    Rather low resolution and attribution required.
    Great for landscapes.
    Maps und portraits from 17th to 19th century.
    Non-commercial use of clip arts as well as sounds and fonts.
    Background images, mostly in low resolution, some in HD.
    Travel pics from all over the world. Rather low quality.
    Public Domain Images of different quality. Tedious navigation.
    5.000+ image. Attribution required.
    1.500 abstract or macro shots. Attribution!
    Ca. 500 Bilder 1600×1200px on various topics.
    600.000+ images of the New York Public Library.
    1.600 images, attribution obligatory.
    Great shots for commercial use. Attribution!
Updated: 01/06/2014, Simon
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PrashanthKrish on 09/24/2012

Bookmarked! Thanks a ton :)

2uesday on 08/26/2012

I will bookmark this as it is such a useful resource for anyone needing images. Although I have to admit that Pixabay is so easy to use and has lots of images, so it will remain my first place to look.

wrapitup4me on 08/24/2012

Thanks so much for this. So one need not be a photographer these days or pay huge sums for commercial photographic images!

dustytoes on 08/19/2012

Wonderful resouce. I will be linking to this.

Jerrico_Usher on 05/18/2012

I tweeted (successfully) this page but the tweet counter seems to be broken on this page (should read 1)

Jerrico_Usher on 03/24/2012

Holy free image scraper batman, this is the most amazing resource for free art I've ever seen! Thanks!

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