How to Find Graphics in the Public Domain (Easy and Quick)
Have you ever published an article/made a website/uploaded a video on YouTube and searched on Google Images to find a relevant image to insert into your work?
Chances are, you have. And chances are, you didn’t have the rights to use that image.
You may think: well, no biggie, right?
Nope. According to this page by the University of California,
Unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted works is illegal and may be considered a criminal act. It is important to remember that all text, software, audiovisual works, photographs, digital images and sounds are granted copyright protection as soon as they are created and all works created after 1978 are protected automatically. A work does not need to bear a copyright notice to be protected. Unless you know for a fact that the work is in the public domain, assume it is copyrighted and you must obtain permission to use the work.
Great. So does that mean I’ll be forced to create every little icon I use online from scratch? Do I have to take photos by myself or pay $5 for photos from sites like Shutterstock or PhotoDune? You don’t. Fortunately, there are websites where images are in the “public domain,” meaning that the creator of the work allows it to be used and modified, both commercially and non-commercially.
Websites That Offer “Free Images”
There are many sites that offer free images for you to use. Flickr is a good example. Many of the images on Flickr have a CC 2.0 license, which means that even though the images are free to use, you must give attribution to the proper author. There’s nothing wrong with giving attribution, but if you’re making an infographic or a something that combines several pictures, it can get quite annoying to have to properly include the image source for all the images. If you’re building a website for a business, for example, it can look unprofessional and odd if you have a long list of citations and sources for images on the bottom of your page.
Where to Get Actual Free Images (In The Public Domain)
Luckily, we have websites like Pixabay to do the heavy lifting for us.
Pixabay has over 470,000 images for free, and a lot of them are surprisingly good quality. If you’re looking for stock photos in particular, there are tons of great images on there. If you sign up (which I strongly recommend you do), you can download images instantly. Pixabay servers are fast, so there’s no need to worry about a slow download.
Most images (especially stock images) are very large. I think this is probably because they were taken with a real, high resolution DSLR camera (by professional photographers too, judging from how good they are). However, you often do not need images at such high resolution.
Here’s an image I found on Pixabay of some gummy bears:
Looks nice, right? Well, the original photo was 6000 x 4000 and 2.3 MB. However, Pixabay handily included options to download images at different resolutions and at different file sizes.
See that gummy bear image above? It was the small version (which is only 56 KB). This saves a lot of space on your server and helps make websites load faster.
Also, when searching on Pixabay, it also returns images from Shutterstock (which is a paid image service). The images there are often even higher quality, so if you really like a particular image or you can’t find what you need from Pixabay, you could always opt for the paid route and get an image from Shutterstock.
Now you know how to get stock images for free––do something amazing with them. By the way, the stock images in the post’s preview image are all from Pixabay.
What resource do you use to get free stock images? What do you think about Pixabay? Let us know in the comments below.