Copyright and Images

Finding images that you can reproduce without having to seek specific copyright permission.

Someone will own the copyright in any photograph or other image that you find on the Web.  Finding out who owns the copyright - and getting their permission to reproduce the image for your teaching or other work may not be easy.

However, there are some sources of images which you can re-use without needing to seek additional permission.

Always check through the usage restrictions on each image you wish to use as these may vary, even amongst images you have found from the same source.

Although the sites below can be an excellent source of resources, you will need to exercise caution with image sharing sites e.g. Flickr and Wikimedia Commons, as users may upload images to which they do not own the rights. If the image looks too clean and professional looking, doesn't look like any of the users other uploads, or is clearly the work of someone else do not use the material.

Digital Inspiration

Their Can I Use This Image On My Website? flowchart is a quick way to establish whether you might be able to use an image

The University Image Library (Asset Bank)

The University of Leicester's Image Library contains around 2,000 images of University buildings, events and academic life.  You need to register to view and download the full collection. Terms and conditions on the use of images are available at the point of download.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons provides licences to enable people to share their work with others using clear copyright terms.  The search provided on the Creative Commons website allows you to search content from other organisations that they have made available for use under certain conditions.

Pexels and Unsplash

Images found on Pexels and Unsplash are licensed under a Creative Commons Zero licence, which means they can be freely reused for any legal purpose.


Flickr, the photo sharing website, allows you to limit the results of an initial search to images which have been given a specific type of license.

The British Library also have a collection on Flickr which have no known copyright restrictions.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is a database of images, sounds and videos.  Whilst most content can be freely reused, you will need to check each item for individual restrictions and if there is an original source cited check their terms and conditions of use as the material may not have been uploaded with their consent.


morgueFile provides access to some free reference images.  morgueFile also allows you to search Dreamstime, which provides images which must be purchased.

New York Public Library Digital Collections

These collections contain many prints, photographs, maps and manuscripts which are free to use without restriction.  Click on the search box and the option to choose only Public Domain materials appears.

Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum have digitised many images from their collections which are available for certain reuses.  Check their terms and conditions to ensure your proposed use is covered.

Snappy Goat

Over 14 million Public Domain/CCO stock images, clip-art, historical photos and more, all in one searchable database.

Moving Image Gateway

Provided by the BUFVC, Moving Image Gateway includes nearly 2000 websites of moving image and sound material, subdivided into over 40 subject areas.

Find DVD

Provided by the BUFVC, the Find DVD database details 30,000 DVD titles either currently or once in distribution and can be searched by title, participant, distributor, producer or keyword.

EU Screen

EUscreen offers free online access to videos, stills, texts and audio from European broadcasters and audiovisual archives. Explore selected content from early 1900s until today.

Museum Collections

The British Museum, National Gallery, Tate, National Portrait Gallery, British Library, Imperial War Museums , Science Museum, Wellcome Trust Foundation and Paris Musées all make some of their material available under creative commons licences. Check their terms and conditions to ensure your proposed use is covered.

The Blue Diamond Gallery have a collection of photos of words licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.'s mission "is to create the best radiology reference the world has ever seen and to make it available for free, for everfor all."  Material on this site is available under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

Public Health Image Library (PHIL)

The Public Health Image Library (PHIL) provides images which "are royalty-free and available for personal, professional and educational use in electronic or print media, with appropriate citation."  Their terms request that you "credit CDC and the individual photographer if his/her name is given. If used in electronic media, please link back to the PHIL site."

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