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Research: Copyright Free Images

Research support for all subject areas

Why seek out copyright free images?

The internet is a fascinating and wonderful source of images.

In this online environment it is easy to share and use what we find but it is important that we recognise that not everything we see is ours to use without acknowledgement or payment.  

Whilst most would have no issue with someone, teacher or student, using an image in their work for educational purposes there are others who maintain their right to be paid for their work. It is both good manners and law abiding to consider the possibilities before downlaoding an image.

Rule three from Yahoo's '10 Best Rules of Netiquette states:

3. Respect Others' Copyrights: There are wonderful things online, information for everyone on just about any topic! However, these things have       copyrights and licenses. Copying the works of someone else without permission or saying it is your own will not only ruin your online reputation, but could land you with hefty fines and lawsuits! 


What can you do?

Most people use Google Images when they search for images. In the advanced settings you can require the search engine to return only copyright free images.

And, you can access images via the fantastic websites to be found on this page. NOTE not all of the images on all of these websites are copyright free you must read the information available to discern whether the image is appropriate for your needs.


Wellcome Database

From 'About Us' on the website:

Two thousand years of human culture

Wellcome Images is one of the world's richest and most unique collections, with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and biomedical science.

All our images are available on demand in digital form. Search online or use the expertise of our professional scientific and historical researchers.

Whether it's medicine or magic, the sacred or the profane, science or satire - you'll find more than you expect.

This unrivalled collection contains historical images from the Wellcome Library collections, Tibetan Buddhist paintings, ancient Sanskrit manuscripts written on palm leaves, beautifully illuminated Persian books and much more.

The Biomedical Collection holds over 40 000 high-quality images from the clinical and biomedical sciences. Selected from the UK's leading teaching hospitals and research institutions, it covers disease, surgery, general healthcare, sciences from genetics to neuroscience including the full range of imaging techniques.

Creative Commons

This site provides access to a range of image collections allowing you to search each of them for images that can be freely used in student work.


Edupic - a resource for education sector

Wikimedia Commons


Wikimedia Commons
a database of 20,426,593 freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute.

Boston Globe Big Picture Site

These images are gathered from AP, Reuters, Getty and a number of public domain sources. Credit is given for each photo and the photos are archived.

Copyright Free?

NOTE not all of the images on all of these websites are copyright free you must read the information available to discern whether the image is appropriate for your needs.

If you need help please email or ask a member of the library or multi media staff. 

World Images Databases

The internationally recognized WorldImages database provides access to the California State University IMAGE Project. It has just been selected by the Library of Congress for inclusion in its historic collection of Internet materials. It contains approximately 100,000 images, is global in coverage and includes all areas of visual imagery.

PD Photo database

About PD Photo: is a repository for free public domain photos. Unless something is clearly marked as being copyrighted, you can assume it is free to use.

Image Base - A free database of professional photography