Where can you find images to use on your website?

While there are a number of great sources for images on the web, the terminology and confusion surrounding their use and licensing can be intimidating.

Here's something to help get you started.

Royalty Free Images

The term royalty-free means that once the content is licensed under a set of guidelines, the licensee is normally free to use it in perpetuity without paying additional royalty charges. In other words, you pay for it now, according to your use, and you don't have to pay again later, eg "royalty" to continue using it for that purpose. This does not mean however, that you are free to use it for whatever purpose you decide in the future, you are only licensed to use it for the originally specified purpose, any other use may and often requires additional compensation.

Royalty-free does not mean a user is free to take and use whatever content they find available to them. It only refers to a specific licensing contract between two entities. The licensor, usually the content creator, always retains all copyright to the content, including the ability to distribute it, or allow redistribution. Each licensing contract is different. Some may allow reselling of items that include that content, such as a t-shirt or calendar with an image, and others do not. The terms of the license should be researched, to be assured if the license includes the rights desired by the license.

Rights Managed licenses.
Usually allow buyers to use the content in very specific ways, with restrictions placed on things like period of time used, geographic region, industry, size published, etc. Rights Managed is so called because the licensor is specifically managing the publishing rights for the content. You might purchase a rights managed image for a magazine ad, or product label for example, or for use during a particular campaign.

Rights Managed Images are often more desirable because of their provenance, or history, that is tracked by the licensor, allowing the purchaser some assurance that the image is not being used for a similar purpose by a competitor, for example.

Royalty Free images and Rights managed images are not free, these are simply terms used to dictate the conditions of their intended use.

Creative Commons License
Look for images covered under the Creative Commons License. Creative Commons Licensing is an established, accepted, legitimate licensing for all things creative, music, art, photography, performances, digital art, writing etc. Creative Commons allows the artist to decide, within a few simple parameters, how the work can be used. In general, there are no charges associated with work covered under the Creative Commons license, but you must still agree and abide by the license terms.

Briefly, this is what it boils down to.


You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work - and derivative works based upon it - but only if they give you credit.

No Derivative Works:
You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it.

Noncommercial means:
You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work - and derivative works based upon it - but for noncommercial purposes only.

Share Alike
You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work.

You can find out more here...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_Commons and here http://creativecommons.org/

Flickr is a good source for images shared under this license. They're well organized and easily search-able by license so you can skip the ones you can't use, like Non-Commercial perhaps, and get right to the ones you can.

The Attribution license is the most flexible, and would fit for most web use, as long as proper credit is given to the creator. Attribution, No Derivs is also a good choice if you're looking for images to use as is, you can use the image, you just can't alter it.

There are more than 18 million photos covered under the Attribution license on Flickr alone.

Below is the link to images on Flickr covered under the Creative Commons Attribution License.


There are a number of other great places to look for images as well, and many more commercial photography sources where image use can be purchased for a fee.

Below are a few other good places to look for images

Stock Vault

Getty Images

iStock Photo

Free Digital Photos





Photo Bucket