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Copyright: Free & Legal Stock Images


Finding the perfect image to put on your website, brochure, or Facebook page can be tricky. It gets even more difficult if you’re making sure your photos are legal to use. That’s right! Legally, you can’t use any image you find on Google Images. Using these images opens your library up to possible lawsuits for copyright infringement. Instead, look for images that fall into Public Domain or have a Creative Commons license.

Public Domain: The person who created this work has waived their rights to the image, or copyright has expired. This means that you can copy, change, distribute, and perform the work for commercial purposes without asking permission.

Creative Commons Licenses: These licenses allow creators to waive and reserve certain rights in regards to their work. This may include: if the image can be used for commercial purposes, if it needs creator attribution, and so on.

Free Image Sources

The following websites are full of free and ready-to-use images (as long as you follow the licensing restrictions) to make your library marketing a little more beautiful:


Website Free No User Account No Attribution Notes
Black Illustrations (Graphics) X X X "...a series of FREE digital designs of black people for your next online project."
Burst X

Low Resolution: No Account

High Resolution: Account Needed

Creative Commons X X X  
Digital Horizons Some are free X

Attribution is requested


Only "public domain" or "no copyright" items are free.
Free Images X Account Needed Various Usage Rights  
Free Photos X X X  
Freepik (Graphics) Most are free X Attribution to Freepik  
Freerange X Account Needed X  
Gratisography X X X  
Library of Congress X X X Free to use and reuse
Nappy X X X "Beautiful photos of Black and Brown people, for free."
Negative Space X X X  
New York Public Library X X X All images are in the public domain
North Dakota Media Library X Account Needed Attribution Required  
North Dakota State Library X X X Free to use and reuse items in NDSL's digital collections
Pexels X X X  
Pixabay X X X  
Reshot (Graphics and photos) X X X  
Smithsonian X X X All images are in the public domain
Stockvault Most are free X X  
Unsplash X X X  
Vecteezy (Graphics) Most are free X Attribution to Vecteezy  
Wikimedia Commons X X Some attribution may be required Millions of freely usable images
WOCinTech Chat X X Attribution required "Stock photos for women of color in tech, now free to use."


This page was written with sources from Angela Hursh's blog "Super Library Marketing."


The staff of the Digital Initiatives department at the North Dakota State Library are not lawyers, nor are they copyright experts. Digital Initiatives will provide help to the best of their ability, but any information provided does not constitute legal advice.

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Many of these resources and programs are funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.