How to find high-quality free images for your website

Image resources such as photos, vectors, and icons are typically restricted for use under specific licenses. This blog lists resources that provide images freely for both commercial and non-commercial purposes without requiring attribution to the authors. This type of license is known as Creative Commons Zero (CC0) – a public domain dedication.

3 most popular sources of free images for personal and commercial use:

What is CC0 (Creative Commons Zero)

CC0 is a public domain dedication, meaning the creator has waived all their copyright and related rights to the extent allowed by law. This allows users to copy, modify, distribute, and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, without asking for permission.

  1. No Attribution Required: CC0 images do not require attribution to the original creator. However, while not required, giving credit to the creator is often appreciated.
  2. Usage for Any Purpose: You can use CC0 images for personal, commercial, educational, or any other purpose without restrictions.
  3. Modification and Distribution: You can modify CC0 images and distribute them, even commercially. You have the freedom to adapt the images to suit your needs.
  4. Derivative Works: CC0 allows you to create derivative works based on the original image. This means you can modify, remix, and build upon the image.

How much money can you save?

The cost of stock photos can vary widely depending on factors such as the agency, the image resolution, and licensing terms.

Premium Stock Agencies offer high-quality and often exclusive content. Prices can range from $9 to several hundred dollars per image. Some stock photo agencies offer subscription plans where you pay a monthly fee to download a certain number of images. The cost per image can be significantly lower with subscription plans, especially if you have a high download volume.

The industry average is around $20 per image when buying with credits.

You can save significantly if you use images in your brochures, blogs, social media, catalog, or other places.

Is it legal to use free images for commercial purposes?

It is generally legally safe to use CC0 (Creative Commons Zero) images on your website. The CC0 license explicitly allows the creators to waive all copyright and related rights, effectively placing the work in the public domain. This means you can use, modify, and distribute the images for any purpose, including commercial use, without seeking permission and without the need for attribution.

However, it’s crucial to ensure that the images you are using are indeed licensed under CC0. Some considerations:

  1. Verify the Source: Confirm that the images are obtained from reputable sources that clearly state they are CC0 licensed.
  2. Read the License Terms: Even though CC0 is quite permissive, it’s a good practice to read and understand the terms of use for each image to ensure compliance.
  3. Be Wary of Mixed Licenses: Sometimes, a website might offer a mix of CC0 and other licenses. Make sure the specific image you choose is under CC0.

While CC0 is very permissive, it’s important to note that it does not protect you from other applicable laws, such as privacy or trademark laws. Additionally, if someone falsely claims CC0 for an image they don’t own, you could potentially run into legal issues. Therefore, due diligence in confirming the legitimacy of the source and the license is essential.

You can give back and contribute with your photos

CC0 license is a community license made for sharing. If you want to give back, it is easy. Make some useful photos and share them with the community on the abovementioned websites. Most of them allow authors/creators to publish under the same licensing conditions.

Picture of Mike Celko

Mike Celko

Technical Lead at Canagon
Certified Google Workspace administrator and deployment specialist.

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