Image Sources

Need images for your presentations, online learning modules, or teaching and training materials? This directory of image sources can help you find images that make it easy to satisfy copyright requirements.

For more information on attribution, see our Image Citation Guide.



Public Domain and Creative Commons Resources

The following resources offer collections of images that fall into one of the following copyright categories:

  • Public Domain (PD): works for which copyright has expired, or been waived by the copyright holder.
  • Creative Commons (CC): works that have been permissively licensed and made available for reuse. These items are still under copyright and reuse may have certain conditions. For instance, you must always provide attribution when reusing a CC-licensed image; for more information on attributing images, see our guide on how to cite images.

Images in either of these categories may, in many cases, be used on public UBC websites with minimal copyright concerns. To be safe, remember to always double-check the licensing conditions of individual items. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Back To Top


General (All subjects)

Source LMS? Public site? What is it? Special Considerations
Creative Commons Search Yes Yes, with citation - A meta-search tool. Can be used to find CC-licensed images on Google Images, Fotopedia, Europeana, etc. - Remember to verify that works are CC-licensed by following the links to resources that appear in your results.
Flickr Creative Commons Search Yes Yes, with citation - Use the "Any License" drop down menu to search for CC-licensed images.

- Look under the “Additional Info” on an image page for licensing info and terms of use.

The Flickr Commons Yes Yes, with citation - Public domain photography collections supplied by libraries and museums from around the world.
- Some samples: Vancouver Public Library, the Biodiversity Heritage Library.
-Images are all in the public domain, and have no known copyright restrictions.
Foodie's Feed Yes Yes - Free food photography. Photos are licensed under CC License Zero. Can be used for commercial purposes.
Gratisography Yes Yes - Free high resolution images with no copyright restrictions. Photos are licensed under CC License Zero. Can be used for commercial purposes.
IM Free Yes Yes, with citation - Curated collection of free images, available for commercial use. Most images licensed under CC License 2.0, but check before you use them.
ISO Republic Yes Yes -Free high-quality, copyright-free photos. Can be used for personal and commercial projects. See terms here.
The Noun Project Yes Yes, with citation - An extensive collection of Creative Commons-licensed icons and symbols. - Icons may be licensed under different CC licenses, so check each license for terms of reuse. A citation will be provided for you when you download an image.
Open Street Map Yes, with citation Yes, with citation - User-generated maps and data from around the world, free to use under an open license. See the Copyright and License page for information on how you can use these images and data.
Picjumbo Yes Yes -Free stock photos for personal and commercial use. Search by categories including animals, food, technology, and more. Attribution appreciated. Most uses allowed. See terms of use here.
Picography Yes Yes - Free, hi-resolution photos. Subscribe to get new photos delivered to your inbox each month. No restrictions on use.
Pixabay Yes Yes - Photos and clipart published under CC-Public Domain license (free of copyright restrictions). - Note that sponsored Shutterstock images are also shown during searches but are not free of copyright restrictions. Those images are marked with a gray background and display the Shutterstock logo.


Startup Stock Photos Yes Yes, with citation - Free photos of start-up culture, people working, office spaces, etc. Photos published under CC License 4.0. Can be used for commercial use.
Stokpic Yes Yes -Free stock photos that deal with a variety of subjects. New photos added every two weeks. No copyright restrictions; public domain.
Superfamous Yes Yes, with citation -Mostly geological, biological, nature, and aerial photos. - Photos licensed under CC License 3.0.
Travel Coffee Book Yes Yes - Free travel photos from around the world. 10 new photos every 10 days. You can download all released photos at once. - All photos are licensed under CC License Zero. Can be used for commercial purposes.
Unsplash Yes Yes - Free high-resolution stock photos depicting a wide variety of subjects. 10 new photos are released every 10 days. - All photos are licensed under CC License Zero. Can be used for commercial purposes.
Wellcome Images Yes, with citation Yes, with citation - CC BY 2.0 and CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 licensed images of thousands of years of human culture. - See "Terms of Use" for instructions on attribution. Verify license before use.
Wikimedia Commons Yes Yes - 20 million freely usable image, sound, and video files.
- All files are Public Domain or CC-licensed.
- Check the “Licensing” section for an image to find any terms and conditions for reuse / instructions on attribution.


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Art and History

Source LMS? Public site? What is it? Special Considerations
Europeana Varies Varies - An enormous treasure trove of historical digital resources from museums, galleries, and archives throughout Europe. Photos, artworks, drawings, objects, documents, and films. - Many images are in the public domain or have permissive licenses, but check individual images for terms of use (some are not openly licensed). The advanced search tool allows users to filter by images that can be freely and openly used or by specific license.
Flickr Commons Yes Yes - Public domain photography collections supplied by many libraries, galleries, and museums from around the world. - Images are all in the public domain, and have no known copyright restrictions.
French Revolution Digital Archive Yes Varies -The Images of the French Revolution resource is composed of about 14000 images of items such as prints, illustrations, medals, coins, and other objects. - Free of charge for non-commercial use, please contact utilisation.commerciale@bnf.fr for commercial uses.
Getty Open Content Program Yes No - The Getty has made 4,600 high-resolution images of their museum collection free to use, modify, and publish for any purpose. Includes paintings, manuscripts, photographs, sculpture, etc. - From the Search Gateway, select the link for “Open Content Images”, which allows for images available for reuse. Images should be attributed with the statement “Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program”.
Images Canada Yes No - A centralized database of digitized historical images from cultural institutions across Canada. - Citation must be formatted as follows: Copyright symbol, ©, Name of partner institution ("Source" on image page), Image ID number, and the statement: "Reproduced with permission from the [partner's name] website (partner's website address)”.
Internet Archive Book Images Yes Yes - Millions of historical images from books scanned by the Internet Archive are available and searchable via tags on Flickr. The pictures date from 1500 to 1922 and include historical photos and drawings. - Images are all in the public domain, and have no known copyright restrictions.
Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection Online Yes Yes - As part of its Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC) initiative, the Met now provides access to 400,000 high-resolution digital images of public domain works in its collection. Works covered by the policy are identified on the Museum’s website with the acronym OASC and can be used freely and without permission for non-commercial use, including scholarly/educational uses in any media. Includes iconic paintings, photographs, etchings, sculpture, etc. Image citations must include the creator and source and the URL "www.metmuseum.org." The website's terms and conditions stipulate that images should not be modified and cannot be used for commercial purposes.
Museum of New Zealand Collections Online Yes Yes - The museum, also called Te Papa Tongarewa, has made 30,000 high-resolution images from their collection available for download and reuse under a CC BY-NC-ND licence. - At the Search Gateway, select the button for “with downloadable images”, which allows for images available for reuse. Select the image, then select the “download” button beneath the image. The attribution statement will be provided on the download page.
New Old Stock Yes Yes Cole Townsend curates this collection of vintage photos from public archives. The images are free of known copyright restrictions. Clicking on the link under each image will take you to its original post on Flickr, where you can get more information about the image. See Flickr's statement about public photo archives in the Flickr Commons, which have indicated "no known copyright restrictions."
Open Glam Open Collections Yes Varies - OpenGLAM (Open Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) curates an extensive list of Open Collections from several cultural institutions. - See licensing information from individual institutions for applicable terms of reuse.
the Smithsonian Institute Yes Yes - More than 40,000 works being made available for high-resolution download—expanding regularly with new acquisitions Images can be used for all non-commercial purposes.
Trove--National Library of Australia Varies Varies Close to 400,000,000 digital resources including many images, primarily from Australia. Also includes books, maps, music, historic newspapers. - Limit your search to "freely available" content using the advanced search. See each resource for specific licensing information.


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Sciences

Source LMS? Public site? What is it? Special Considerations
Encyclopedia of Life Varies Varies - A collaborative online encyclopaedia with entries on all kinds of biological entities on Earth - In most cases, content is made available under a Creative Commons license. Check the license for any applicable terms of reuse.
Earth Science World Image Bank Yes No - Maintained by the American Geological Institute (AGI), and provides over 6,000 quality geoscience images. - Images are copyrighted, but contributing photographers to allow their images to be used for non-commercial purposes. For full terms, see their Image Use page.
NASA Images Yes Yes - NASA Images provides public access to NASA's image, video, and audio collections in a single online resource. (See also: NASA on Flickr Commons). - NASA imagery is generally not protected by copyright, so you are free to use it for educational or informational purposes.
- Note: this permission does not extend to any use of the NASA logo.
BioMed Central Yes Yes, with citation - Not an image database. An online publisher of open access biology and medical journals which are Creative-Commons licensed. Figures and graphs in articles are also CC-licensed and available for reuse. - Tables and figures published in articles on BioMed Central are available for use under the same CC-BY 2.0 or (starting Feb. 3, 2014) CC-BY 4.0 license as the journal articles. Advance permission is not required, but be sure to include a full citation.
PLOS One Yes Yes, with citation - Not an image database. An online publisher of open access biology and medical journals which are Creative-Commons licensed. Figures and graphs in articles are also CC-licensed and available for reuse. - Tables and figures published in articles on PLOS One are available for use under the same CC-BY 3.0 license as the journal articles. Advance permission is not required, but be sure to include a full citation.
Morphbank :: Biological Imaging Yes, with citation Yes, with citation - An open web repository of images for use in international collaboration, research, and education in the biological community. Images not password-protected are CC-licensed - Images are available under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license, or under a less restrictive license. Password-protected images may not be used without written authorization from copyright holder.
Science Image Yes, with citation Yes, with citation - More than 4,000 free science and nature images and videos curated by CSIRO, Australia's major science research organization. Search by keyword or filter by categories including animals, insects, soil science, fire, water, and more. - Images are available under CC BY 3.0 license.

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UBC Licensed Resources

Note that images taken from UBC library resources are generally licensed for educational use only. As a result, these resources are useful for course development (posting to Connect or creating handouts, for instance) in most cases, but will be of less use to anyway developing a public UBC website or blog (for this use-case, see the resources under Public Domain / Creative Commons).

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General Sources (all subjects)

Source LMS? Public site? What is it? Special Considerations
AP Images Yes Varies.
Ask us.
- A database of world events and press images spanning over 185 years. Includes photographs, audio sound bites, graphics and text. - For license terms of use and permitted uses see the Library’s licensing info page for AP Images.
Academic Search Complete Yes No - A database of scholarly materials containing images. Filter by photographs from the search screen to return results that contain images. - For license terms of use and permitted uses see the Library’s licensing info page for Academic Search Complete.

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Art and History

Source LMS? Public site? What is it? Special Considerations
ARTstor Yes No - A digital library of over 1 million images in the areas of art, architecture, the humanities, and social sciences. - For license terms of use and permitted uses see the Library's licensing info page for ARTstor.
Grove Art Online Yes No - An online scholarly art encyclopedia. Contains over 45,000 articles and images on every aspect of the visual arts. - For license terms of use and permitted uses see the Library's licensing info page for Oxford University Press Databases.
Early Encounters North America Yes No (may seek permission) - Documents the relationships among peoples in North America from 1534 to 1850. - For license terms of use and permitted uses see the Library's licensing info page for Early Encounters North America.
Native American Archives Yes No - Provides more than 1.8 million pages of original historical documents pertaining to Native American history and life from the 18th through the 20th century. - For license terms of use and permitted uses see the Library's licensing info page for EBSCO Publishing Direct Resources.
Luna Commons Varies Varies - LUNA Commons is a digital library of over 200,000 images licensed for educational use at UBC covering the areas of art, architecture, and material culture. - This is a freely accessible resource protected under copyright. Please check the resource website for terms and conditions regarding use restrictions. If you require assistance, please contact copyright.services@ubc.ca.

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Sciences

Source LMS? Public site? What is it? Special Considerations
Medical Images & Multimedia Resources Varies Varies - A guide with links to free and licensed resources that contain medical images and multimedia. - See licensing information for individual resources to find terms of reuse.

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Image Use: General

Using images in your work differs from using textual resources. Very rarely do you want to use a portion of the image, the way you do when using quotations from text. More commonly you want to use the whole image, which is considered copying the whole work. This usage requires permission from the copyright holder; however, there are a few exceptions in the Canadian Copyright Act which allow the use of materials without first obtaining permission. Back To Top

Fair Dealing

The Fair Dealing exception in the Copyright Act allows copying for the purposes of research, private study, education, satire, parody, criticism, review, or news reporting. The user must give the source of the work and, if provided in the source, the author, performer, maker or broadcaster. Copies made under Fair Dealing generally cannot be transmitted or distributed to another person, unless unless you are a UBC instructor distributing materials to your students in accordance with the Fair Dealing Requirements for UBC Faculty and Staff.

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Educational Uses

The Educational Exceptions in the Copyright Act allow for:

  1. Temporary display of copyrighted images in the classroom for instructional purposes as long as the source and creator (or copyright holder) is credited. However, this exception is only available for manual reproduction of images, and for works that are not commercially available on the Canadian market within a reasonable time and for a reasonable price, in a medium appropriate for education or training purposes.
  2. Use of images for assessment purposes, such as an assignment, test, or exam, as long as there isn't an acceptable commercial alternative in an appropriate format for testing.
  3. Use of images from public websites for classroom presentations, or for posting into a UBC secure learning management system (for educational or training purposes), as long as you satisfy the following three criteria:
    • You do not break or circumvent a digital lock to access or obtain a copy of the work (see FAQ 3.3);
    • There is no clear and visible notice on the website or on the work itself that prohibits the use or reproduction of the work (more than just a copyright symbol);
    • The website is not questionable, infringing or clearly using the works without the copyright owner’s consent; and
    • You identify the source of the work and, if available and applicable, the author, performer, maker or broadcaster of the work.

Please note that these exceptions may not apply to images taken from UBC Library’s licensed electronic resources, including e-journals and e-books. To view the permitted uses for images and other content from licensed e-resources, please visit the Library’s Licence Information page.

It is also important to remember that the Fair Dealing Requirements and UBC’s digital licences generally do not permit you to upload to a website, or create links on a website, that is not part of UBC’s secure network, and that is open to the world at large.

Finally, when using images, it is always good practice to cite the image owner/creator and the image source both for copyright and academic integrity reasons. When looking for images online, always assume images are copyrighted unless there is evidence to the contrary.

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source: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Copyright:Support_Guides/Image_Sources2.0