Images / photos

Photographs and images on the internet have the same copyright protection as physical copies. Copying, reusing or distributing this material will infringe copyright unless the copyright owner has given you their express permission.

Getting in contact with the copyright owner is not always easy so a few websites have developed licences which allow others to reuse images under certain terms and conditions.  Always remember to check the specific usage conditions and credit an image unless specified otherwise. Terms of use are often found at the bottom of webpages in small text.

Online free resources for still images & photographs – Please remember to check the terms and conditions for each site.

General Images A-Z

  • British Cartoon Archive – 200,000 British cartoons which can be used for teaching purposes, presentations or academic seminars. Credit BCA on all work used.
  • British Museum – refer to website for terms of usage.
  • Creative Commons Search – search for images with Creative Commons (CC) licences on Flickr, Fotopedia, Google Images and Open Clip Art Library. Learn more about Creative Commons Licences.
  • Europeana – Millions of images from museums, libraries and archives. Use the advanced search option to find material with CC licences.
  • Flickr – material is individually licensed under CC licences – also includes collections of Public Domain (copyright-expired) images from the British Library, the National Maritime Museum and other institutions.
  • Flickr Commons – a catalogue of the world’s public photo archives
  • Free Images – over 6000 free stock photographs. Generous terms of use but must provide attribution. 
  • Google Images advanced search – Change ‘usage rights’ to filter image licences.
  • Imperial War Museum -see website for terms of use.
  • MorgueFile – a public image archive created by creatives. Select the free photos option. Check the licence terms for each individual image.
  • National Portrait Gallery – refer to website for usage terms.
  • New Old Stock – old, vintage or retro images free of known copyright restrictions.
  • Open Photo Project – images individually licensed under Creative Commons.
  • PhotoPin – Search Creative Commons photos for blog posts
  • Pixabay – public domain images with generous CC licences, stating they can be copied, modified, or distributed even for commercial purposes.  View using Chrome or latest version of Internet Explorer.
  • Public Domain Images Pixnio – wide choice of images with generous usage terms.
  • Science Museum – see website for usage terms.
  • Tate – see website for usage terms.
  • Unsplash – contemporary photos all licensed under Creative Commons Zero, which means you can copy, modify or distribute images for free.
  • Victoria & Albert Museum – refer to website for usage terms.
  • Wellcome Trust Foundation – refer to website for usage terms.
  • Wikimedia Commons: Images – large collection of images individually licensed under Creative Commons.  Can browse by sub category or search by topic.
  • Xpert from the University of Nottingham – a wide range of materials in all the main subject categories. Material is either in the public domain or each item is individually licensed under Creative Commons.
Subject Specific Images 
Loughborough University
Arts & Humanities
  • Library of Congress on Flickr large collection of historical photographs including, jazz, baseball, 1930-40s in colour, women’s liberation etc. Check terms on individual images.
  • V&A – Over 250,000 images including fashion, photographs, and sculpture. Facility to download high resolution images for free.
  • VADS – Over 100,000 images for visual arts for use in learning, teaching and research.
Medical, Health & Biological Sciences
  • College of Biological Sciences – images can be used for educational purposes only.
  • Radiopaedia – CC images for medical and radiography professionals.
  • Wellcome Trust Images – a very large collection of high-quality images in the Public Domain on the history, sociology and anthropology of medicine and the biological sciences.

Professional Stock Images  

  • Free Digital Photos – professional stock photographs. Please acknowledge the source.
  • Free Images – professional stock images in technology, transport, sport, health, nature, buildings and textures. Please check the terms carefully, acknowledge the source and provide a link to the site.
  • Pexels – free stock images for commercial use.
  • Public Domain Archive – Free stock photos, free from copyright for commercial use.
  • SplitShire – Free stock images for commercial use.

Search Engines and Directories of images

Images & photographs to PURCHASE:
  • Getty Images – images in the royalty free section are still subject to a charge.
  • Shutterstock – affordable stock photos, e.g. 5 downloads for £29 for one year’s use.

Other online resources:

Information on the Law relating to Pinterest and Image Sharing Websites – provided by JISC.

Understanding image licensing – Provided by Getty Images

Please note that the website links above have been compiled to help you highlight the range of websites available but are not endorsed by the University.

If you have found a suitable image on a website but you are unsure about downloading and embedding it, consider providing a hyperlink directly to the website.  You just need to make sure that the image you are linking to is an authorised copy and not a ‘pirate’ version.

Images from Books

The Library stocks a few books which provide copyright-free illustrations, subject to terms and conditions. These include:

Attributing Material

If you use any images, video or audio please remember to attribute the work unless specified otherwise.  In each instance always check the terms and conditions of use.

For example CC licences require users to attribute the original creator(s) of a work and recommend the following style.

“My Awesome Photo,” © 2009 Greg Grossmeier, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license:

To find out more about attributing Creative Comons material please refer to their best practice webpage or see their PDF guide to help you attribute material.

For more information please contact the University’s Copyright Advisors:


Ring: 01509 222399 (Monday-Wednesday) or 01509 222351 (Wednesday-Friday)

Last updated by C. Greasley, 5th August 2020

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