Find Free Images With CC Search

Screenshot: Alice Bradley, CC Search

Finding great artwork for your next blog post or meme can be a challenge. And while there are plenty of sites you can use to find images you’re legally allowed to reproduce and/or modify, the latest addition to my list is CC Search, Creative Commons’ tool that is now officially out of beta.

Jane Park, director of product and research at Creative Commons, notes that the new search tool indexes around 300 million images, with plenty more on the way — Creative Commons’ has a lofty goal of indexing more than 1.4 billion licensed works.

“CC Search searches images across 19 collections pulled from open APIs and the Common Crawl dataset, including cultural works from museums (the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art), graphic designs and art works (Behance, DeviantArt), photos from Flickr, and an initial set of CC0 3D designs from Thingiverse,” she writes.

The beauty of CC Search is that everything you’re looking up is free to use, so long as you abide by whatever variation of Creative Commons licence the image uses.

Figuring that out is easy. Start by searching for whatever you want on CC Search. You can then use the Filter button to isolate down to images that use a particular licence (if you’re not well-versed in each one, I recommend having that Creative Commons licence link up while you browse the filter’s options).

Screenshot: David Murphy

Don’t forget the “I want something that I can...” drop-down, either, which allows you to filter for images that you can use commercially or modify for whatever you’re trying to do. (Picking either option greys out the “licenses” filter — think of it as a simplified way to get to the essence of what the various licenses allow you to do.)

You can also isolate down to just the image providers themselves. That’s useful if you’d rather scour through more amateur-shot Flickr images than, say, images of laptops sitting in a museum (to use my example from the screenshot).


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