Thank you, Creative Commons, for helping bloggers illustrate their posts with free images

free-imagesIf you’re like thousands of other bloggers, you probably face a quandary every time you post. “Where can I find a free image suitable for illustrating my latest brainchild without getting sued?”

And, if you’re like thousands of other bloggers, you are probably confused by an abundance of legal-sounding terms associated with images like “royalty free,” “public domain,” “managed rights” and “licensed.”

Look for CC0

Under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, you can copy, modify, distribute and perform (???) an image for free so long as it is being used for a legal purpose. CC0 images are free for personal and commercial use. You don’t have to ask for permission or give attribution (creative credit to the creator). There is one main restriction. Identifiable people may not appear in a bad light or in a way that they may find offensive, unless they give their consent. Read more about Creative Commons licenses.

CC0 Galleries

Our favorite websites for finding CC0 images are,, and A couple of words of caution:
• Some sites contain a combination of image types – not every image is CC0. We like it that Pexels makes it clear whether an image is CC0.
• Some sites, including DivvyPixel, allow you to download whole galleries with one click, which can be great if you find a gallery you like. However, be careful about downloading multiple images with varying license types. This is a common way that people have accidently stepped into legal trouble.  (DivvyPixel is not suspected of this).
• Some sites are disreputable and have been known to recycle managed-rights images without permission. Do a little research on new sites before you accept their CC0 claims as Gospel.

Free Images Pitfalls

Keep in mind that free images typically do not come with any form of legal protection that may leave you responsible if a claim arises.

The quality of free images also can be an issue. Some free images are worth less than their cost (grin) while the better ones are often over-used. Remember iStock Stanley? Stan wasn’t free but his likeness was certainly overused.

The bottom line is that you must read the terms of use carefully to make sure an image may be used for free.

Do you like this post’s image? It was free! 🙂

2016-10-17T10:29:44+00:00 January 12th, 2015|Content Strategy|