How to Use Creative Commons Images on Your Blog
While CC is best known for our licenses, we also provide other legal and technical tools that enable openness on the web. Learn more about our other work on the CC blog.
For example, if you find great photos online to use on your blog, it’s probably Fair Use to include them — provided that you credit the photo and link to its source.
What is Creative Commons?
Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that creates free copyright licenses and related tools to help people share and build upon the work of others. The organization also creates a label that can be used to identify works that are in the public domain (CC Zero).
CC licenses do not replace or modify existing copyright exceptions and limitations, such as fair use, or rights held by individual creators. In addition, CC does not track or manage the content licensed under its licenses; this is left to the rights holders electing to apply a CC license.
You can learn more about Creative Commons and its licenses by visiting the CC website. You can also download an easy-to-use CC license chooser to help you determine which licenses best fit your content.
How do I use Creative Commons on my blog?
Almost all content posted on the Web is protected by copyright, and without express permission from the author it is illegal to reproduce this work on another site. A blogger can legally incorporate Creative Commons images or video into a blog post by obtaining the proper licenses and following best practices for attribution.
In addition, a blogger should consider registering the content of their blog with the U.S. Copyright Office to provide a record of ownership and help prevent copyright infringement. There are also a number of plugins and widgets that can be used to add a copyright notice to a blog with little or no technical knowledge required.
The easiest way to find Creative Commons content is to use a search engine that allows users to filter by license type (like Openverse, which was recently acquired by WordPress). A blogger can also create a custom image or video search on the official Creative Commons website.
How do I find Creative Commons content?
It’s not hard to find Creative Commons content on the web, although it can be more difficult than finding media files with traditional copyright protection. There are many websites that feature CC images and videos, and most of the major search engines allow you to add a filter for CC-licensed materials.
Several popular photography websites, such as 500px and Pixabay, have been designed specifically to host images released under various flavors of the Creative Commons licenses. They offer pre-filtered searches and a wide selection of pictures that can be used under a variety of conditions.
Similarly, the archive site Europeana features digitized content from galleries, libraries, museums, and other institutions across Europe. The MERLOT repository content search allows users to limit searches to a specific license type. You can also search YouTube and Vimeo for Creative Commons-licensed video, but you will need to add a filter to the search (e.g., “video,creativecommons”). You can also use the search tools provided by other sites, such as OER Commons and CC Search.
How do I use Creative Commons images on my blog?
Adding images to your blog is a great way to grab reader attention and make your post more visually interesting. However, not all images are free to use, and some have specific terms that you should be aware of.
For example, if an image is licensed under the CC Attribution license, it means you must give credit to the creator of the work. You can usually do this by adding a line like “Photo by [Name]” at the bottom of your post or including a link back to their website.
Other images may be licensed under the CC Non-Commercial or CC No Derivative Works licenses, which means you can redistribute the image but cannot change it in any way. If you are unsure about how to attribute an image, contact the copyright owner for more information. They may also have specific requests for how they would like to be credited.