Home Digital Literacy Simplify Your Search for Copyright-Free Images

Simplify Your Search for Copyright-Free Images

by Alexis Cline

You can find an image of just about anything with a simple Google search, but not every image is usable. Copyright infringement, using images without the consent of the owner, is illegal and exposes you to the risk of a lawsuit. Students may not realize this, especially since finding, saving, and using images from the Internet is so easy.

Both for our own projects and in teaching our students about good digital citizenship, we must discuss appropriate use of material found online and make the effort to find and use copyright-free images. When labeled as Creative Commons, the owner has agreed in advance to make the graphic available for public use.

There are several ways to search for copyright-free images. My two favorites are Google’s Advanced Image Search and Makerbook, both of which are quick and simple to navigate.

Google Advanced Image Search
Bookmark this search option. It gives you enormous flexibility in tailoring your search results. In addition to specifying the image’s color, size, and file type, you can choose Filter Explicit Results to block inappropriate pictures. You can also specify the usage rights to include various levels of reprint permissions.

Once you have set the parameters, a search bar will appear. Fill in your search terms and note that the toolbar at the top of the window shows your image preferences for that search. You can easily adjust these settings for a new search using the toolbar’s dropdown menus.

This is where many designers find free images, textures, fonts, and vector graphics from a collection of websites designed for creatives. Each site’s policy is stated in the description next to its link. Some allow content to be used for any purpose and others restrict usage to non-commercial projects.

New Old Stock Photos and Unsplash are two of my favorite sites in Makerbook. New Old Stock Photos has a number of vintage images that are great for use in history, sports, and science. The images from WWII and NASA are particularly wonderful. Unsplash allows ten downloads each month of beautiful, artistic photos that can add color and dimension to any project or presentation.

For additional search tips and more information on the research process itself, check out the August 2015 issue of TechEdge. You can also learn about another great tool for citing photos easily with Photos for Class in this earlier blog post.

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