Looking for images with no copyright to use in your creative endeavors? You’ve come to the right place.
We will not only tell you exactly where to find no-copyright image libraries, but also explain some aspects of non-copyrighted images you might not be aware of, and give you an awesome list of alternatives that are better than no copyright images for commercial use!
More info: How copyright works in stock photography
Non copyright images are also free to use, anywhere you want, from personal use like social media and scrapbooks to commercial use like marketing and advertising.
How could there be legal dangers when the photos have no owner, you may ask? That’s precisely why they are dangerous… because they’re hidden. But here they are, exposed:
- They might not be legally non-copyright – Say what? Yes. One of the ways images become copyright-free is when they are ceded into the public domain. But it can happen that whoever ceded the image wasn’t the legal copyright holder (usually that would be the photographer that shot the picture), thus has no legal right to donate it.
- Models might not consent to the use – Every person included in the image must agree to have their likeness used, by signing a model release document. If releases aren’t in place, you could find yourself in legal trouble. This also applies to private property including trademarks, logos, and even protected landmarks.
- Endorsement is restricted – They may be free to use, but the direct endorsement is still forbidden even for copyright free images. Meaning you cannot use the photos in a way that explicitly or implicitly suggests the models/the authors are endorsing your product, service, or brand. Especially when you use pictures available through Creative Commons, you need to check if this restriction applies.
More info: 5 dangers of using free photos from the web.
These potential issues get increased when you intend to use the photos for commercial purposes, which includes every visual you create in connection with a profitable activity: adverts, flyers, and packaging, but also social media campaigns, landing pages, even email newsletters, to name a few.
Even more info: 102 expert tips to create marketing visuals
Warned about the risks, where to go for downloading non copyright, free stock images? Here are the best shortcuts to find them:
- Free photo sites – There are many websites offering large libraries of images you can download and use for free. Not all of them are copyright-free, though. Some require attribution and others not, but they’re all free of charge. See our list with over 27 great free photo sites! It includes sites with Creative Commons Zero CC0 licenses as well as others with custom terms that are overall safer.
- Google – The go-to search engine actually has a very convenient way to find copyright-free photos. Simply go to the images search, enter your keywords like you normally would, and in the results page go to “Tools”. Next, go to “Usage Rights” and select “creative commons licenses”. Did you know that now there's also a Google image filter for licensable images?
- Flickr Commons – Image-focused platform Flickr has this project, The Commons, where they collect public domain visual content from multiple organizations, institutions, and individuals. The resulting library is quite big and very useful for educational and documental projects.
Royalty Free images are copyrighted, yet licensed through a very flexible agreement: for a small fee, you get to use the image legally in all the designs you want, including commercial-oriented ones, for as long as you wish. Simple as that.
They are high-resolution photos and suitable for professional use, and they come at very affordable prices.
More info: Beginners guide to use stock photos
Even more info: Royalty-Free stock images explained + commercial use examples
If budget constraints prevent you from buying professional stock photos, you’ll love to learn about these cool ways to get high quality, royalty free photos free of charge, or at such discounted rates that they are almost as good as free!
Find more deals like this in our complete list of stock photo free trials!
Stock Photo Secrets’ 99Club – Recommended!
Shutterstock Free Trial – 10 Free Images
Take advantage of this great deal from Shutterstock, which gives you 10 high quality photo downloads to use for one month, totally free. After that, you can cancel your account, or stay subscribed to one of their super affordable stock photos subscriptions!
Photocase – 5 Free Image Credits + Bonus Discount
Our exclusive coupon code for Photocase gives you 5 free credits for image downloads, plus a 10% discount on your first purchase. Perfect to test the waters with Photocase’s quirky images!
Adobe Stock Free Trial – 10 Free Images
The special trial offer from Adobe Stock lets you download up to 10 images of your choice, for 30 days, completely free of charge. After the trial period you can cancel your account, or stay subscribed for a low monthly fee.
Canva Pro Free Trial – Unlimited Images
Canva Pro is a full-on design service for businesses, and their Canva Pro Free Trial lets you access all its features, including unlimited image downloads, for one month, for free. After that, you can upgrade to a paid membership or cancel the account.
Yay Images – Unlimited Downloads
Yay Images has a cool Unlimited plan that gives you unlimited downloads of not only images but also videos, plus other perks for businesses, for just $29 a month!
Now you know where to find non-copyrighted images, and you also know what to watch out for when it comes to using them in your work.
But more importantly, you also learned that royalty free images are a better option in terms of quality and legal safety, so you should definitely opt for them wherever possible. Be it through free trials or super low-priced deals, royalty free images are your best investment in visuals!
Header image: Copyright by Jens Lumm/Photocase.com, all rights reserved