It’s important to me to give credit, proper attribution, and to respect license and other terms and guidelines when I use images I myself have not created.
I want to talk about my practice and regular sources here. Hopefully this information can or will help you, too, if you are looking for other images for your own use, my guidelines and sources may help.
For regular use, you are looking for licensing that allows you to use, derive, or reuse the images you want to use. The kinds of licensing you can use for free are “free use”, “public domain”, and or some kind of public deed (e.g. Creative Commons), or public license (e.g. GPL, CopyLeft, Mozilla Public License, etc.). When you are looking at these deeds and licenses, it’s important to look carefully at the terms and provisions of the license or deed you’re planning on exercising. It’s pretty much only “free use” or “public domain” where you don’t have to be too careful about how you use it. Some of the forms of the Creative Commons deed are very permissive but often require you to at least attribute your source, if not share under the same terms/deed/license. Copyleft licenses also often allow or require allowing derivations of your reuse of the work, which may not be something you want to do, and which depends very much on interpretation and enforcement of local copyright laws.
You may also get license/permission from individual creators (like I did from Dragon School), which also can be cool.
Keep in mind that some licensors charge fees, which is of course why we look for free use sources instead.
Also please note I am not a lawyer, nor do I wish to represent laws or interpretations to you. If you have legal questions or need legal interpretations, hire a lawyer or attorney to help you.
Sites and Sources
These sources are repositories of available images for use/reuse, but be careful to check individual files/images’ licenses, attribution, and terms. This is especially true for Wikimedia, but may also apply to other sources, so be careful. And if you have questions, it’s always safest to do research, look for licensing/deeds, and if you can’t find any, reach out to the creator(s) if possible.
- Wikimedia Commons
GPL, Open Source, Public Domain, and other free use/free reuse licenses abound here. There’s a pretty wide selection of content, and as long as the Wikimedia Foundation survives (they’re always fundraising!) this will be a rich source of reasonably high quality imagery to use/reuse as long as licensing permits. Be aware that some images are in SVG (Support Vector Graphics) format, which not every other service supports natively. You can find image viewing software that can translate and export to other more popular formats like PNG or JPG.
- Google Maps
They have attributions on the maps, built in, and their usage guidelines say you can use their maps and screenshots of their maps under Fair Use (generally not for profit, personal use) as long as the attributions remain intact.
- Your own photos
You can do what you like with your own photos. You even retain copyright of them if you use them, implicitly, unless you give that right away or license it away somehow.
Free stock photos. Reasonable search engine. Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. Free for any legal purpose.
Do you have any favorites?