15 Great Copyright Free Image Sites

15 Great Copyright Free Image Sites – BUT… Are They Really Copyright Free?

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I found a great article today that I want to share with you. It's a list of 15 stock image sites that offer free use of the images listed. But before I give you the list, I want to talk about some of the licensing, restrictions, and ways you can use images you find on these sites.

What is free-use?

You need to read the license on each site (and even on any image you want to use) to make sure how you want to use the image is within its license, but for the most part, free-use allows you to use the image in any way you want, personal or commercial without paying and without giving attribution to the owner or the site where you downloaded the image. I'm sure the owner and the stock photo site appreciates attribution, but, it's not necessary.

When you click over to the article with the list of sites, you'll see it refers to the sites as “copyright free” however, I found, with regard to some of the sites, that's not correct as a couple of the sites have licenses that say the owner still retains the copyright. That means that the images on those sites DO have a copyright. You MUST check the license when using photos from these sites.

What is the Creative Commons CC0 License?

Quoting from the Creative Commons website, here is what they do:

“With a network of staff, board, and affiliates around the world, Creative Commons provides free, easy-to-use copyright licenses to make a simple and standardized way to give the public permission to share and use your creative work–on conditions of your choice.”

Creative CommonsIn other words, Creative Commons has created licenses with different sharing abilities (named and categorized) and has an affiliate network of sites that recognize those licenses. So, when you see a CC0 license, you know it means that the person who created the work has waived all copyrights and has basically given the work to the public domain. Any work that has a CC0 license can be copied, modified and distributed even for commercial use without the permission of the author and without attribution.

If you see that an image has a Creative Commons CC0 license – do what you want with it.

So, Where Can You Find This Great List?

The article with all the links can be found at: 15 Websites for Downloading Copyright Free Images

The main thing I want to point out about these websites is that not all the images are free-use or have a CC0 license, some are, but some aren't. For example, I went to Freepik.com and wasn't able to find any images that you could use without attribution unless you signed-up for a paid account. On Styledstock.co, the license says the owner retains the copyright but you can use how you want, even in a commercial project.

Okay, I've given my warnings, don't use without checking the license. So now I'll list my favorites.

My Favorites

Pixabay.comPixabay – Pixabay is probably the most widely known of all the sites listed and you can find some really nice images. You can use images from this site however you want, so have fun picking great images. Their FAQ says:

“You can copy, modify, distribute, and use the images, even for commercial purposes, all without asking for permission or giving credits to the artist. However, depicted content may still be protected by trademarks, publicity or privacy rights.”

CanvaCanva – Canva is a great platform and has a lot of free images and design layouts, however, even the free items are governed by a license. And that license does not say “use as you like,” there are restrictions and prohibited uses. So, read the license agreements and keep your account. Here's a link to the license agreement on Canva – read both pages:

Free Items – https://support.canva.com/legal/licensing/free-elements/

Overall License – https://about.canva.com/license-agreements/extended/

I am in the process of creating a Canva Course – sign-up for my mailing list below and watch for the announcement to learn how to get the most from this fabulous free platform.

Styled StockStyled Stock – This website was new to me, and in fact, it might be a new website. It's designed to cater to women and all the images are very feminine. Most of the images are shots of desktops and include flowers and the color pink. At the time of this writing, there were only 9 pages of images. I see a great need for this type if imagery with the proliferation of mommy blogs and women starting businesses that cater to women and hope the site grows fast.

Their license states the following, so you are allowed to use in many ways, both personal and commericial, however, the page has other restrictions so please read before using:

“You are allowed to use our images for any commercial or non-commercial purposes. However, the image copyright is still the property of its author.

You are free to adapt and use them for commercial purposes without attributing the original author or source. Although not required, a link back to Styledstock.co is appreciated.”

A Fav NOT On The List

UnsplashUnsplash – Unsplash is another site very similar to Pixabay. Lots and lots of great free use photos. I even think it's easier to find great images on Unsplash than it is on Pixabay. So don't leave this one out of your image arsenal. Their license states:

“Unsplash grants you an irrevocable, non-exclusive, worldwide copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Unsplash for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Unsplash. This license does not include the right to compile photos from Unsplash to replicate a similar or competing service.”

My Favorite Paid Stock Image Site

There are a lot of paid stock image sites. I recommend staying away from Shutterstock. Even though they have absolutely gorgeous photos, the cost is unbelievably high. There are others that are quite reasonable when compared to Shutterstock. Also, be careful on the free sites listed above, many of them have a Shutterstock ad running across the top and bottom of the site. You will see a gorgeous photo, click on it, and all of a sudden you are taken to the Shutterstock site to pay anywhere from $15 to hundreds of dollars for the image. So, don't waste your time.

DepositPhotosDepositPhotos – This is my favorite site and the one I use the most. They have a very, very large selection and a great way to save your favorites so you can come back to them later. If you have a blog, create ebooks, courses, post a lot on social media, or do anything that has a demand for images, their Flexible Plan for $29 a month is the best. You can download up to 30 images, even hi-res and vectors, per month. And if you go over, the overage is just $1 per image. It's a great deal even if you don't use all 30 images.

I hope you found this post helpful, I know I was excited to find so many new and different places to get free images to use in my projects. If you liked this post and found the information useful, I would love to hear from you in the comments section below or would love for you to share on your favorite social media platforms. And don't forget to like our Facebook page while you're at it.

Until next time,


About the Author Reba Collins

I’m a fifty-something, self-taught, online business geek from Texas and owner of Online To Thrive. A lot goes into creating an online business and it can be a really scary endeavor. I’m here to help make getting started easy and affordable with step-by-step courses that are clear, straightforward, and uncomplicated.

  • kelly says:

    I’ve not heard of Styled Stock before – thanks for bring it to my attention Reba!

    • Reba says:

      I know! Such a cool site, I sure hope it continues to grow.

  • Amber says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I have used Canva and unsplash before and look forward to checking out the other sites you listed.

    • Reba says:

      Glad you liked it Amber! Hope you can use some of the other sites as well.

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