Finding Creative Commons media online

Using Creative Commons materials

When you use material created by others, whether for teaching, publication or personal use (copying), you need to consider copyright. Creative Commons licensed resources are licensed for various types of re-use. These are usually free to use, sometimes with some restrictions such as crediting the creator (attribution).

Lean about the different licences

Free resources (public domain)

These sites contain media which have been licensed under the CC0 licence or placed in the public domain. You may use these resources free of charge and with no restrictions. Some use custom licences rather than CC0 (see guidance)

Read the Creative Commons guide to using public domain tools


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  • Pixabay – One of the largest collections of stock photos, vector images and other illustrations online. Images licenced using the custom Pixabay licence.
  • Unsplash – High resolution stock photos. Images licenced using the custom Unsplash licence.
  • The Public Domain Review – Mixed media in the public domain also contains Creative Commons licensed media.
  • – A nuanced search of thousands of stock photos.
  • LibreStock – Searches 47 different free stock photo websites.
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art – 406,000 images of artworks from The Met collection to use, share, and remix without restriction.
  • Art Institute Chicago – A filtered image search. Includes famous Hokusai prints and paintings by Seurat and Van Gogh.
  • New York Public Library Digital Collections – A filtered image search of 230,000+ public domain images (mainly illustrations and photographs).
  • Trove – The National Library of Australia’s archive of images filtered for open access.
  • The Cleveland Museum of Art – Over 34,000 high quality, free and open digital images from the museum’s collection – Includes works by Cézanne, Dürer and Monet.
  • Musopen – Provide music recordings and sheet music under Creative Commons licences. Use their Music discovery tool to separate out different licences including CC0.
    • Open Goldberg Variations – The results of pianist Kimiko Ishizaka’s Kickstarter with Musopen to create a professional studio recording and score licensed under CC0.
  • Open Music Archive – A UK-based archive of out-of-copyright sound recordings.
  • Free Music Archive – An interactive library of high quality, legal audio downloads.
  • FreePD – Website of CC0 licensed material.
  • Pond5 – Also contains images, music and sound files.
  • The Public Domain Review – Mixed media in the public domain also contains Creative Commons licensed media.

Creative Commons resources (free with some restrictions)

The resources below contain media licensed under one of the other Creative Commons licences. This means they are subject to the terms and conditions of the licence (such as non-commercial use).

You may use these resources free of charge, with attribution (and sometimes other restrictions).

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  • Openverse – This portal facilitates searches of Google Images, Wikimedia Commons, Europeana and other sources for material published under a CC licence.
  • Flickr Commons – Where cultural institutions make photographs with no known copyright restrictions available.
  • Flickr Creative Commons – You can also search Flickr for CC licensed works but be sure to reverse image search to double check the licence.
  • Morguefile – Provides images that are free for reuse, but attribution is required if you do not alter the original image creatively in some way.
  • The Blue Diamond Gallery – Text-based images under CC BY-SA licences. Useful for dictionary, Scrabble tile and word cloud style images.
  • Google Advanced Image Search – Use the 'Usage rights' section drop-down to choose what kind of licence you want the content to have.
  • Wellcome Collection Images – Thousands of Creative Commons licensed images, from historical library materials and museum objects to contemporary digital photographs.
  • Belvedere Museum, Vienna – Art work licensed under the CC BY-SA 4.0 licence. Includes many Klimt pieces.
  • Getty Open Content Program – Art including illuminated manuscripts, paintings, drawings, sculpture, decorative arts and international photography from its inception to the present day. Filter for ‘open content images’ and check which licences are used.

For more resources go to Warwick University's list of open access images

See also the Creative Commons guide Legal Music for Videos.

  • Iconfinder – Download well known icons for internet browsers, social media and large companies under CC licences. Alternatively use generic icon sets for your own purposes. Many different file types available including.ico. Filter for appropriate licence.
  • Convertico – Converts png images into icons.

Fonts can be a simple way to create a unique look for your posters, blog or PDFs. To preserve non-standard fonts, you may need to save your presentations, posters etc as PDFs.

  • Font Squirrel – High quality, legitimately free fonts
  • My Fonts – Use to find and match fonts you see

Editing and searching tools

You can use software to edit Creative Commons or open access resources or check if an image is under a CC licence using a reverse image search. Here are a few resources we think might help.

Learn more about copying material on

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  • TinEye – A reverse image search engine. Search by image: give it an image and it will tell you where the image appears on the web.
  • Google Images – Click on camera icon and upload the hyperlink to the image location. Google will search for uses of this image. Can be used to try to track down the original uploader or rights holder.
  • Bing – Click on camera icon and upload the hyperlink to the image location. Bing will search for uses of this image. Can be used to try to track down the original uploader or rights holder.
  • Inkscape – A professional vector graphics editor for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. It’s free and open source.
  • GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) – A free and open-source raster graphics editor used for image retouching and editing, free-form drawing, converting between different image formats, and more specialised tasks.
  • Canva - A free web-based design tool with useful templates for various purposes (such as social media posts, presentation slides).
  • – Check your colours and find hexadecimal codes
  • TinEye Labs – Multicolr Search – Extracts colours from Creative Commons images on Flickr to make the images searchable by colour.