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“What? I can’t just grab images from Google for my PowerPoints?” Nope, sorry. While the internet seems to encourage sharing, most images and photos are protected under copyright law. Copyright gives only the author the exclusive right to use and reproduce their work. This means images you “find” cannot be used in your courses without […]

“What? I can’t just grab images from Google for my PowerPoints?” Nope, sorry.

While the internet seems to encourage sharing, most images and photos are protected under copyright law. Copyright gives only the author the exclusive right to use and reproduce their work. This means images you “find” cannot be used in your courses without the photographer’s permission. While it is not likely that the copyright police will come a’knocking, potentially you could get a “notice and takedown” letter. Set a good example for your students and only use images that are copyright-free–especially if you make presentations that will be viewed outside your classroom walls.

Fortunately, there are a number of resources for professional quality, copyright-free images.
Here are my top 10 favorites:

  1. pexels.com (free photos and videos)

    A truly incredible resource for free-to-use professional-quality photos and videos from artists around the globe. In theory, this site also includes content from unsplash and pixabay, but if I am looking for something specific I have found different images on all three. When you find an image you’d like to download, it is yours for free without signing up for anything. Usually, the photographer will have a donation link where you can donate a dollar or two if you are inclined. You can use and modify the images for free for both commercial and personal use without attribution. VIST: pexels.com 

  2. unsplash.com (free photos)

    Great site with professional-quality free photos. You can do a search, or the images are also broken into topics like current events, architecture, and health if you would like to browse. VISIT: unsplash.com

  3. pixabay.com (free photos, illustrations, and videos)

    This is a smaller site for photos, but certainly worth a look, especially if you need illustrations or vectors. The thumbnails of the videos take a moment to load, but if you hover over them you can see how they play. VISIT: pixabay.com

  4. Gettyimages.com (free to link photos and graphics)

    This is one of the best resources for educators out there. It gives you the ability to embed any Getty image for your “non-commercial website or blog,” aka your Blackboard course. You don’t download the image, but instead, you use an embed code, and the image will be hosted from the Getty website–much like when you embed a YouTube video. All images will retain the Getty watermark and link back to the Getty Images site. This is a small price to pay for the more than 66 million professional images on Getty that usually cost around $600 a piece. VISIT: How to embed images at Gettyimages.com

  5. VectorStock.com (graphics and illustrations, for a few dollars per download)

    This is the web’s largest resource for illustrations that you can modify using a drawing app like illustrator. If you are looking for a chart template or graphics to for your course it is likely worth a dollar or two for the download. There are a few thousand free illustrations, but over 14 million for around a dollar. You do not need graphics software to use the files. Each download also comes with a .gif versions you can just pop into a PowerPoint. VISIT: VectorStock.com

  6. ReShot.com (free photos)

    ReShot prides themselves to be the place for high-quality, high-resolution stock photos that don’t look like stock photos. Great for finding shots of people out in the world doing real activities. VISIT: ReShot.com

  7. StockSnap.io (free photos and illustrations)

    StockSnap.io has beautiful, free stock photos and high-resolution images all released under creative commons public domain – no attribution required. Nice search feature and broad categories lists. VISIT: StockSnap.io

  8. FoodiesFeed.com (free food and restaurant photos)

    This site is dedicated to all things food, so you’re in luck if that is what you seek. VISIT: FoodiesFeed.com

  9. New Old Stock (archive of free vintage photos)

    A nice collection of vintage photos from around the world. VISIT: New Old Stock

  10. Wikimedia Commons (free photos, images, videos, and sounds)

    This is one of the internet’s largest resources for all things media. It is a tremendous resource for vintage stock and also current events. Sadly, it is a  terrible challenge to search. Also, absolutely anyone can upload files, so a great deal of the image quality is amateur. However, If you are looking for a very specific image (such a model of a plane, a famous building, or artwork) that is not likely to be a “stock photo,” then Wikimedia may be your only hope.

    To best find what you are seeking, use the search field at the top right of the window. I don’t recommend trying to narrow your search by clicking on the categories because you will miss all of the images that are not properly tagged. This collection is nearly uncurated, so most images are poorly tagged. VISIT: Wikimedia Commons