Looking for Old Images?


National Library of Ireland, 1961

Searching for black & white, vintage or just plain old photographs? Then take a peek at New Old Stock the latest search engine to retrieve vintage images from public archives which are free from known copyright restrictions. All images are available for personal or non-commercial use and some have more generous usage terms.

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More re-usable pictures : British Library and Wellcome Trust


TENDENCY OF STUDENT LIFE, taken from: N.S. Shaler, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, London : Sampson, Low and Marston, 1894, p. 582. Image courtesy of the British Library. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

The British Library and the Wellcome Trust have recently digitized and made available thousands of Public Domain (copyright-expired) images to be downloaded and re-used by the public.

The British Library photostream on Flickr contains images mainly taken from books in the BL’s collections, covering a wide variety of subjects.  The records for the images include links to the catalogue-records of the books that they are from, and in some cases even to .pdf files of entire books.  Despite owning the copyright in the digitized versions of these images, the BL has made many of them available without formal licences.  However, the BL does request that the users of its Flickr images follow certain principles.

The Wellcome Images collection has mainly to do with the history and anthropology of medicine and the biological sciences (it includes a section on sports and exercise).  The images are available in different formats: most images have formats (often .jpg) that are freely available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence.

More guidance about finding re-usable images online is available here.

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Search Google Images for re-usable pictures

Google Images has introduced a new feature that allows you to find images that you can re-use without infringing other people’s copyright.

Go to Google Images (http://images.google.co.uk/), and search for what you are interested in.  We’ll do a search for ‘Ben Nevis’ (Figure 1 – click on the Figure to see the details).

Google Images search for 'Ben Nevis'.

Figure 1. © Google, 2014.

When the results appear, click on the ‘Search tools’ button, and you will get a set of drop down menus.  You can use the ‘Usage Rights’ menu to filter the results according to what permissions have been granted for their re-use.  We’ll select images that have simply been ‘labeled for reuse’ (Figure 2 – click on the Figure to see the details).

Google Images 'Usage Rights' filter

Figure 2. © Google, 2014.

The results on the screen will change: the ones that you may not re-use should have been filtered out.  You can now select one that you like the look of (Figure 3) and go to the website where it has been uploaded.

One filtered result from Google Images

Figure 3. © Google, 2014, and John Dyason, 2006. Reproduced here under a Creative Commons licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/).

Always check on the original website that you really are allowed to re-use the picture that you want.  This example says clearly that it has been issued for re-use under a Creative Commons licence, and provides a link to that licence (Figure 4 – click on the Figure to see the details).

Licence information details

Figure 4. © Geograph, 2014, and John Dyason, 2006. Reproduced here under a Creative Commons licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/).

You can find more information about Creative Commons licences here: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/.

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V&A New Image Collections Online

2006AG1816The V&A museum has undertaken a massive digitisation project to bring its collections to a wider audience.  To find images which can be used for private or academic use please go to ‘Search the collections’ at: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/The collection contains over 250,000 images of fashion, photographs, sculpture, metalwork, and ceramics etc. There are two options available, either copy and save a low resolution version of the image or register for free and download a high resolution version also for free.  Remember to check the terms and conditions for use and credit the source as shown below.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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Pixabay – Professional looking Public Domain Images

If you need a professional looking image without a hefty price tag or copyright restrictions, then take a look at Pixabay at: http://pixabay.com/

Pixabay aims to provide copyright free images which are in the public domain and have a Creative Commons Universal Licence.  Pixabay says images can be copied, modified, distributed and even used for commercial purposes, all without asking permission but please check the terms for specific details.

Alternative websites providing ‘copyright friendly’ images can be found in the section on ‘Sourcing and using resources: Images and Photos’.

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