The world of free stock photos can be a difficult one to navigate. If you’re using a paid image repository like iStockphoto or Shutterstock, your rights and responsibilities are clear: You pay for the rights to use the image, and no attribution is required.
However, if you’re choosing to go the free route–and really, why wouldn’t you?–it can be confusing to know how you’re allowed to use the photos, and what (if any) attribution is required.
This post will give you a list of 20 sites that offer 100 percent free images for use on your blog or social media posts. And the best part? All the sites below offer photos under the Public Domain or the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This meansno attribution (link) is required.
In case you’re unfamiliar with copyright categories, here’s a brief overview of the three main types:
Public Domain–Images in the public domain are works whose copyrights have expired or whose creators have relinquished all rights to the works. These are free for personal or commercial use. There is only one exception to the “free for all use” policy for public domain photos: If you’re using an image of a recognizable person, you may need to get his or her permission to use the photo. Some sites offering such photos will already have obtained a model release, so if in doubt, consult the license agreement that comes with the image.
Royalty Free–When images are offered royalty-free, this simply means that the purchaser pays a fee and can then use the image without paying additional royalties or licensing fees. This also means the purchaser doesn’t have to give attribution. This is the model used by paid stock photo sites.
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