How to find free images with CC Search

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Find great illustrations for your next blog post or same can be a challenge. And while there are many sites you can use to find images that you are legally permitted to reproduce and/or modify, the latest addition to my list is CC Searchthe Creative Commons tool which is no longer officially in beta.

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

“CC Search searches images through 19 sets taken from open APIs and the Joint exploration dataset including cultural works from museums (Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art), graphic designs and artworks (Behance, DeviantArt), photos from Flickr and an initial set of 3D designs CC0 from Thingiverse”, she writes.

The beauty of CC Search is that whatever you search for is free to use, as long as you stick to the variations of Creative Commons License the image uses.

Understanding this is easy. Start by searching for anything on CC Search. You can then use the Filtered button to isolate images that use a particular license (if you’re not familiar with each of them, I recommend having this Creative Commons license link while you browse the filter options).

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Screenshot: David Murphy

Also, don’t forget the “I want something I can…” drop-down menu, which allows you to filter out images that you can use commercially or modify for whatever you’re trying to do. (Choosing either option grays out the “licenses” filter – think of it as a simplified way to get to the essence of what the different licenses allow you to do.)

You can also isolate only the image providers themselves. This is useful if you prefer to browse more Flickr images taken by amateurs than, say, images of laptops sitting in a museum (to use my screenshot example).

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