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Free image banks to purchase royalty-free images

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What licenses can be accessed?
Photo files under the CCO license
Other image databases with different free licenses
An unclear legal situation
In short: everything depends on its correct use


Free image banks to purchase royalty-free images

If you are looking for photographic material to integrate it into your website, it is recommended that you do not use lightly the photos resulting from a Google search, since many of them are protected by copyright and subject to certain conditions and payment of fees..

The rights of use are established through licenses. If you want to avoid the long process of checking which licenses each of the images you select is subject to, it is convenient to resort to one of the many free image banks available on the Internet, which in addition to free material, also put royalty-free photos are available to users, the use of which is subject to few or no restrictions.

What licenses can be accessed?

The role of licenses is to define the rights of use of the works, be it images, musical pieces or videos. The violation of the conditions of use may result in legal consequences and therefore should be avoided at all costs..

In general, royalty-free images offer a lot of room for maneuver. An image subject to a free license will be called? Free? or? royalty free ?. The term? Royalty-free images? is somewhat misleading, as these are also licensed, only free. However, in everyday language this name has been established for photographic material subject to free licenses.

The most common free licenses are Creative Commons (CC). The non-profit organization makes 7 different types of licenses available to those interested. The images subject to the CC0 license are very popular, as the license does not contain any kind of restrictions regarding the use of the works. The material that is included in this license can be used for commercial purposes and can also be modified or altered in its entirety without naming the author. For more detailed information on CC licenses, click here..

Photo files under the CCO license

On the Internet you can find some free image banks offering images subject to the CCO license . In addition to photographs or illustrations, these types of pages also offer vector graphics and icons, which are ideal options for web design. Here is a detailed list of the most popular platforms that offer CCO licensed images:

  • Pixabay: The German company has long been one of the most popular on the market, offering more than 500,000 images, photos, vector graphics and illustrations offered under the CCO license. In this platform, users can select the category that best suits their needs and later download the images for free. To do this, a search function is offered that makes this task easier.
  • Pexels: Pexels is a meta search engine that covers more than 10,000 photos under the CC0 license and that, like the previous platform, also allows the search for royalty-free images according to the selection of the relevant categories.
  • Unsplash: The Canadian platform offers numerous CC0 photos, mostly about landscapes and architecture, and your subscription allows you to receive 10 new photos every 10 days.  
  • Public Domain Vectors: on this platform you can find more than 30,000 graphic vectors in the public domain, suitable for responsive web design.
  • Gratisography: Gratisography is a free image bank created by Ryan McGuire that offers high-quality photos that can be used for personal or commercial purposes.
  • StockSnap: this is another platform that uses CC0 license and in which you can find an extensive library of high-quality photos.
  • picjumbo: this is a portal created by the Czech photographer Viktor Hanacek that contains numerous photographs classified by categories.
  • SKUAWK: this platform offers numerous images distributed in different categories, such as landscapes, technology or fauna and flora.
  • SplitShire: SplitShire is the project of Italian Daniel Nanescu . From the website you can access a large bank of high quality images without any restrictions.
  • Life of Pix: is another of the platforms with high resolution photos and in the public domain that can be accessed through the integrated search function.  
  • Pickup Image: This is another option to obtain a large number of photos and graphics in the public domain, focusing mainly on capturing landscapes and cities .
  • Jay Mantri: this is the page of the designer Jay Mantri, from whose archive you can access all the published photos.

The platforms discussed above are distinguished as free image banks that mainly offer photos under the CC0 license . To avoid unnecessary risks, before proceeding to download the files, it is convenient to check which license is applicable to each one of the images.

Other image databases with different free licenses

Special attention must be paid to the licenses to which photos are subject when using image files or files from agencies that also offer artwork subject to CC0 or other licenses . In this case, the terms of use and the FAQ are usually helpful.

In addition to CC0 licensed images, it is worth the effort to search for photos and graphics with other licenses, which will lead to a much larger selection of possibilities. The following platforms offer images and graphics with various free licenses :

  • Creative Commons: The Creative Commons search engine allows you to examine the results of the databases of other web pages such as Flickr, Wikimedia Commons, Pixabay, etc. In general, the search function makes it possible to access all CC licenses, although the website explicitly states that the search function is also capable of finding images subject to other licenses. Therefore, each time a result is obtained, the corresponding license must be checked.
  • Public Domain Pictures: This platform offers CC0 licensed or public domain images and other licenses.
  • Free Stock Photos: On the Free Stock Photos website you can find free royalty-free images and also other images that are subject to payment of fees.
  • New Old Stock: on this website you can download a large number of old photographs (many of them from public archives) in which, as a general rule, the licenses have already expired. However, this is not the only feature of the portal, as it also offers new vintage- style photos .
  • Superfamous: the Dutch Folkert Groter exhibits his photos under the CC BY license on this website and these can be used freely as long as the author is named.
  • FreePik: FreePik makes a wide range of free vector graphics available to users, the use of which is subject to the attribution of their authors.
  • Morguefile: this is another option to access numerous free and quality images. The terms and conditions of use of the service are detailed on the website.
  • Freeimages: like other alternatives, this is a large gallery that includes free photos of all kinds divided by categories.

An unclear legal situation

The web pages listed above only make up a small part of all the free image bank options that can be accessed for royalty free images. The popularity of free licenses has grown steadily in recent years. Consequently, new royalty-free photos and platforms to host them emerge every day.

The use of these images nationally and internationally may present some differences that it will be better to clarify before making use of them. To do this, you can turn to legal professionals and visit the pages of the corresponding platforms to learn more about their conditions of use and the licenses around which their images are published.

In short: everything depends on its correct use

Only when you take the photo can you be completely sure who the author of it is. Even though there are some photo agencies and image databases that give the impression that they can be trusted, when you want to use someone else's photo for personal purposes, you should check each of the details it contains . However, mistakes happen all the time no matter if it is a small photo blog or a large stock photo agency or even an image is placed in a database.

If you are not sure about a photo, it is best not to use it. As long as photo usage restrictions are met, a wide selection of free images can be accessed on the internet.