How To Get Free Public Domain and Stock Images for Commercial Use

Are you a photographer, Adsense publisher, content creator or designer? If so, this piece of writing really needs your attention. No doubt, internet is a big game these days. But we still need some precautions while we’re online.

Sharing, tagging, commenting or downloading photos from social sites is a very common activity on the internet. But we can’t simply use a random photo for commercial use. Especially when we intend to generate some profit from that work, like Google Adsense or affiliate Marketing etc.

No doubt people are habitual of sharing photos, music and videos (All thanks to social media). This is a common habit that can’t be denied. (We all do that at many occasions!)

Our little carelessness may disturb our life to a greater extent that we can’t imagine. But we need to be a little careful while using anything for commercial purposes. Then be it an image, music or any kind of documentary we’re going to use in our project.

Benefits of Using Images By Following this Guideline:

  1. You can make yourself safe from legal difficulties
  2. Best for Search Engine Optimization
  3. You can get your blog or website approved form Google Adsense and other ads network
  4. And of course peace of mind !!!

You Must Be Thinking: But why can’t I use any random image?

Many of you might think that it’s stupid. If we can access something, then why can’t we use it? It doesn’t matter right? Actually, it’s not that simple. Let’s understand this concept first that why can’t you use any image randomly?

Suppose if someone stops by and starts eating your pizza (I like vegetable BTW) so how would you react? Definitely you’ll be upset! Or, your class fellow demonstrated that he prepared the assignment when it was yours. Most probably you’ll use harsh words to show your aggression.

Or if you’re like me then you’ll expect the other person to take your permission at least. I mean, if anyone asks to use any of our stuff for a while so we may think about it (or maybe we let them use it). But if someone deliberately uses our stuff, take benefit of our hard work without our consent then it’s not acceptable for anyone.

So how can we assume that if we use anyone else’s material either online or offline then it’s okay? We should respect other people’s sentiments. And how can we do something if we don’t want that thing to happen to us right?

If you’re still thinking that ‘It’s not that big deal’ then you should think again. You should understand that using someone else’s stuff or in other words, copyrighted material may cost you a huge amount, sometime imprisonment as well. In The USA, if someone is found guilty in such scenario then he may be fined around $30,000/-. This is not it as this amount may go up to $150,000/-. So the decision is yours from this point on!

Few Words About Images Licenses:

The world doesn’t stop here so don’t worry! Just give credits to the real owners and you may use that particular image you think is relevant to your project. But first let’s see which image can be used and which you can’t use. With every image you find online, there’s a special kind of license that tells you if it’s usable or not.

Creative Commons has defined about licenses very briefly. But for your ease, we’ve presented it in a short way.

  • CC BY: Photos under this license can be used for commercial or personal use until or unless you give proper credits to real owner/creator.
  • CC BY-SA: Images under this license let you enhance ‘real owner’s’ work and use commercially or otherwise until you use the same license after altering or enhancing the image.
  • CC BY-ND: Images under this license can be used commercially only if you do not make any changes in it.
  • CC BY-NC: Under this license, you may use the image but personal use only (no commercial use sorry!).
  • CC BY-NC-SA: Under this license, you may alter the image and use for personal stuff. Do not use such images for commercial purposes.
  • CC BY-NC-ND: Images under this license can be downloaded but user can’t make any commercial use or even alter the image whatsoever.

Right Way To Use Images For Commercial Purpose:

After when we’ve learnt about licenses, it’s time to talk about some more things. I mean, we talked about selecting the right image to use based on the license type right? So let’s discuss that what’s the right way to use an image in your work or for a blog that fully comply Google Adsnese policy. It’s not very technical at all. Just see these examples below and that’s it.

Photo from Flickr:

Carson outdoor pool goes to the dogs – FMWRC – US Army – 100910 by U.S. Army

The photo above is from Flickr (the social website). And you can see a ‘blue’ line hyperlink underneath this photo. This is one way to link back to real owner or creator if we use someone’s work. Note that this image was under Creative Commons license otherwise we would not use any copyrighted image.

Image from Pixabay:

Smiling Girl by Greyerbaby

Here’s another example how you should give credit to real creators. Just take these measures and save yourself from any complications.

Case Studies: See How Copyright Infringement Destroys ‘Good Days’

Below are some case studies that will demonstrate how people (particularly artists and photographers) got affected by ‘Copyright Infringement’.

  • The first case that we have to show you is about the known micro photographer ‘Andrew Paul Leonard’. His images showing bone marrow stem cells were used by SemTech Health Inc without his permission.

Andrew sued the company which resulted in his favor and the other party paid him a hefty amount. According to petapixel, SemTech Health Inc paid around $1.6M for infringing Andrew’s work without his permission.

  • Another case study tells us how Fairey (the artist who designed President Obama’s poster during 2008 elections) got into trouble due to copyright infringement. According to 99Designs, this street artist used a photograph to get inspiration and make the poster.

Unfortunately, the photograph he took was one of AP’s freelancer name, Mannie Garcia. This whole scenario ended up when Fairey agreed to share the profit with Mannie (the freelance photographer) of the original image. Luckily they resolved the matter without any official interference but Fairey had to lose half the money made during that election campaign.

  • If you think that big organizations are exempted from this law then you’re wrong. During Haiti Earthquake, a journalist name, Daniel Morel posted some photos relating to this incident on his social account.

As the photo started rolling out on social website ‘Twitter’, AFP took one of his photos for commercial purposes (but without his permission). It resulted in Morel sueing AFP for stealing his work (as per Morel’s view) and the court found AFP guilty. AFP paid around $1.2M to Morel in terms of statutory damages. (PhotoShelter)

30+ Sites To Get Free Public Domain and Stock Images:

I can understand how difficult it is to find an image that is under Creative Commons attribute and relevant to your work. But it’s not really difficult to find such image every time you need one. For your ease, we at Pakearning, have tried our best to keep yourself hassle free.

Below are some websites that are filled with public domain images. Just find the image you want and see if it’s under Creative Commons attribute? That’s it!

#1 Unsplash:

The first on our list of Public Domain Images is ‘Unsplash’ where you’ll find high resolution images serving your need. They upload 10 new photos after every 10 days. Navigate through their website or search through keyword (choice is yours).

The best part is, you don’t need to give any attributes for any  photo (that’s what they say at least!). Public Domain images can be used on blogs or websites which use Google Adsense.

#2 Gratisography:

Gratisography is weekly updated to give you high resolution images without any Creative Commons restrictions. You may find any relevant image either by searching through categories or scrolling down your monitor screen. These images are free to use but you may donate by your will to honor photographer’s efforts.

#3 Little Visuals:

Although it’s a bit sad to write but the site owner ‘Nic’ has been died 2 years ago. But still this site has so many images that are high resolution as well as listed under Creative Commons attribute. You may subscribe to this site and get hi-res photos in your mailbox or you may scroll down the screen to search yourself.

#4 Superfamous:

This is another great website to get high resolution images for your needs. Basically this website is run by Dutch designer Folkert Gorter and caters enough to give your content, design or anything much more meaning. Wait! If you’re going to use any photo from this site then you need to give credits to real creator.

#5 Life of Pix:

If you need images based on nature and landscape then you may check this website. Here you’ll find enough photos that reflect what you may want to show through your work.

By: Blake Verdoorn

And the best part is, no CC required! Plus, you get to see new photos every week. (Have fun!)

#6 Startup Stock:

If you’re looking for startup related photos to represent your content, idea or presentation then use this website. Startup Stock focuses on images that show startups and their struggles. You may find the right picture here if you’re in search of something like that. In fact, if you have a tech related website then you will surely love this stock images site. (I bet!)

#7 MMT:

Jeffrey Betts has another great option for you in shape of (MMT). Here you may find high resolution images every week for commercial purposes. Sounds fair enough? You may find the right photo by searching through keywords. Or as an alternative way, you may navigate through the site to find the right photo as per your need.

#8 Pexels:

Pexels is another great option to find the right image for your commercial uses. Here you may find the right photo in huge image collections these guys have. Search through keywords or navigate through the site (decision is yours!). They add 5 new photos routine-wise and you get to see images in different categories like abstract, tech, nature or outdoor etc.

#9 Magdeleine:

You get to see hi-res photos in shape of Magdeleine. This website has another huge archive of high resolution photos for commercial uses. You may search the right photo as per your needs. Different photographers submit their work to this website. So you get to receive photos in different genre that caters your needs well.

#10 Jay Mantri:

This website has images based on nature and outdoor locations. You may search through the site to see if any photo matches your requirement and has what you’re looking for. This is another reliable website to get stock images for commercial use. Just navigate through the site and discover beautiful hi-res photos.

#11 Stock Snap:

Stock Snap has the most advanced system to search through piles of hi-res images. You’ll love the features on their website and you get to see images in different categories as well.

They count download views that may help you choose the most popular yet beautiful photo without making much efforts. (Oh! You don’t need any attributions.)

#12 Re:splashed:

This website has an awesome feature to search images based on filters and keywords. Just insert the relevant keyword and you’ll see the most relevant image for your use. At the moment, they have more than 600 images for your usage. And of course, all these photos are free for commercial use so enjoy.

#13 Picography:

Picography is another great site to search for free stock images for commercial purposes. All they ask is to give them credits and that’s it. You may find the right image you’re looking for here. Nature, wildlife, outdoor or whatever your search is, you find a huge collection of images here.

#14 ISO Republic:

ISO Republic is another great place to look for free stock images for your commercial usage. Just navigate through the website and find the right image you’re looking for either by keyword search or through categories. Have fun!

#15 StokPic:

StokPic has one of the huge archives of free images for commercial purposes. However they provide premium photos but they also have a huge collection for free images. Just download the image and give credits (if you could). But do not redistribute the image as per their usage policy.

#16 Wefunction:

WeFuction basically is a designer website having a section for free stock images. You may find the right photo if your search is based on tech related or office related things. You may also find some outdoor locations in their free photo collections.

#17 Raumrot:

Raumrot can be a nice place to find a hi-res photo for your project. All you need to do is give them credits and use the image the way you want.

BY: Markus Spiske

Nothing much is required from your side after you credit their work.

#18 FoodiesFeed:

As you may have guessed by its name – Foodies feed. This website focuses free stock images based on food items and dishes. So if you’re having a website in food niche then here’s the site to look for right photo.  

#19 Bucketlistly:

OK so the next site we’ve on board is about traveling blogs and websites. So if you’re looking for something related to travelling or so then here’s the site. Search through the site and find the right photo for your content, presentation or project whatsoever.

#20 Cupcake:

CupCake is another great website to look for landscapes and outdoor locations for your commercial usage. You may find the right photo by navigating through the website or use the archives if you’re in a rush. However images are under creative commons license but it’s a good practice to credit and appreciate owner’s efforts.

#21 Getrefe:

Get refe is another option to find the right free stock image for your project. You may navigate through the site to find the image if you’re looking something related to travel or real life photos.

#22 SplitShire:

If you’re looking for abstract, portrait or real life photos then Split Shire is the right place for you. Search through categories or you may even use the search bar to narrow your search criterion. They have a nice collection of images for commercial usage.

#23 Negative Space:

Another great place to look for commercial use image is ‘Negative Space’. They add new photos every week so you get to see new addition. All photos uploaded there are under CC0 license so you don’t need to worry about copyright infringement or so.

#24 Death To The Stock Photos:

Death to Stock Photos is another great option to find hi-res professional images. But things work here a little different. You need to sign up at their website and they’ll send 10 new photos every week in your inbox.

However numbers are limited here but photos may interest you to use in your work as a free user. But, you may go premium if you want access to all the images right away.

#25 Picjumbo:

Picjumbo has more than 10 categories for you to search free stock images. You may choose the category from sidebar or use the keyword search. They have hi-res images for your commercial usage and you get to have professional photos to use in your work.

#26 IM Free:

IM Free is another great place to find free stock images for your project. You may choose the category or search through keywords. Here you’ll find high resolution images all under commercial use license. They add up images on daily basis. But make sure that you check for license before choosing the image as some may need attribution. Rest don’t require any attribution!

#27 New Old Stock:

If you’re doing something that needs old photographs (or, vintage touch) then here’s another site for you. New Old Stock has so many images under CC0 license that you may use for your project or so. Enjoy!

#28 Lock & Stock Photos:

Lock and Stock Photos are all work of known photographer AJ Montpetit. You may benefit from his beautiful collection of photos all under CC BY-SA license. Search through keywords or navigate through the site and find the right image for your needs.

#29 Snapwire Snaps:

One of the beautiful image collections related to nature, outdoor locations and landscapes is here for you. You get to see 7 new photos every week here on Snapwire Snaps. If you find a relevant image for your work then you use it without any problem as all photos are under CC0 license there.

#30 Tookapic Stock:

Tookapic Stock is basically a marketplace for photographers. But you may find free photos under CC0 license by filtering your search for free images only. They have a huge collection which is enough to find the right image for your project for free. Or, if you can afford then you may go premium. Choice is yours how you use this great site!

#31 MorgueFile:

MorgueFile is one of the reliable sources to find free stock image under CC0 license. But the only issue is that images there are not well organized so you may have a little hard time while searching. But still you can use this site to find a safe image for your commercial usage.

#32 Pixabay:

Here on this site you’ll find tons of free images under CC0 license. They have a very nice way to filter your search and make it easier as compare to some other free stock images site. Just search through your keyword and get what you’re looking for. It works like 1, 2, 3 and boom! (Boom doesn’t represent any explosion hehe!)

#33 Tinyography:

Tinyography basically focuses on photos showing gadgets, outdoor locations and indoor places.

So you may find the right image you’re looking for your project. All the photos are under CC0 license so you don’t need any attribution but it’s always nice to check for license before you finally select an image. They have categorized their photos well but the only problem is that they don’t have search bar at the moment.

So these were few (lot of) websites to get you started. But don’t think that it stops here. There are a lot more websites offering public domain/free stock images under CC0 license. Use this list as reference or search more.

But let us know through comment section below if a site that you know is not in this list. Your voice matters so be positive and help others!

About Rais Zada

Mr. Rais Zada is a proud Pakistani, student of Engineering, loves and believes to work hard with a great potential and determination, as he was a TROLL few years ago but N-O-W is a successful blogger and businessman (of course, thankful), beyond every thing, what he learns he is a zealous to transfer his knowledge via his well-writing and videos. Struggling on!

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