Free Art Treasure Chest: Open Access Images & Public Domain Photos

Free Art Treasure Chest: Open Access Images & Public Domain Photos

Artist: Steven K. Roberts


Millions of art images from across the USA you can download for free today...


Visit: Art Institute Of Chicago

Copyright: CC0

The Art Institute of Chicago is home to some of the world's most revered masterpieces, including more than 50,000 pieces in its public domain collection, which are free to use and open to commercial use. From renowned icons like van Gogh and Picasso, to lesser known but no less amazing artists, like Pointillist painter Paul Signac (a friend and former student).

The Art Institute has one of the better organised websites. You can explore thousands of works from all around the world and learn about different cultures at your own pace by searching and filtering their public domain collection - which houses some masterpieces you'll recognize instantly - or have a tonne of fun discovering for yourself!

Visit: Cleveland Museum of Art

Copyright: CC0

The Cleveland Museum of Art offers dynamic experiences that illuminate the power and enduring relevance of art in today’s global society. The museum builds, preserves, studies, and shares its outstanding collections of art from all periods and parts of the world, generating new scholarship and understanding, while serving as a social and intellectual hub for its community. Their open access archives features over 37,000 treasures.

Visit: Dallas Museum of Art

Copyright: Public Domain

More than 25,000 works of art from all cultures and time periods spanning 5,000 years of human creativity.

The DMA is an Open Access institution, allowing all works believed to be in the public domain to be freely available for downloading, sharing, repurposing, and remixing without restriction. Those that are not, will not download.

Visit: Detroit Institute of Arts

Copyright: Public Domain

The DIA's collection is among the top six in the United States, with more than 65,000 works. The foundation was laid by William Valentiner, who was director from 1924 to 1945 and acquired many important works that established the framework of today's collections. Among his notable acquisitions are Mexican artist Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry fresco cycle, which Rivera considered his most successful work, and Vincent van Gogh's Self-Portrait, the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum collection.

Visit: Getty Search Gateway

Copyright: No Copyright - United States

The Getty Search Gateway allows users to search across several of the John Paul Getty repositories, including collections databases, library catalogs, collection inventories, and archival finding aids. Brimming with high resolution photos and free to use images, The Getty Search Gateway truly is a portal to artistic dimensions that would have been impossible for most of us to reach before this website came to be...

Visit: Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA)

Copyright: Public Domain

The Indianapolis Museum of Art has a permanent collection of over 54,000 works that represent cultures from around the world and span over 5,000 years. Areas of the collection you can search include: European painting and sculpture; American painting and sculpture; prints, drawings, and photographs; Asian art; art of Africa, the South Pacific, and the Americas; ancient art of the Mediterranean; Design Arts; textile and fashion arts; and contemporary art. They also hold a significant collection of Neo-Impressionist paintings and prints, many of which were given in 1977 by local industrialist W. J. Holliday.

Visit: The Jewish Museum, New York

Copyright: Public Domain

The first institution of its kind in the United States and is one of the oldest Jewish collections in the world. Maintaining a unique range of nearly 30,000 works of art, ceremonial objects, and media reflecting the global Jewish experience over more than 4,000 years. Located on New York City's Museum Mile, in the landmarked Warburg mansion, the Jewish Museum is a welcoming home to an ever-changing and dynamic range of opportunities for exploring multiple facets of the global Jewish experience.


Visit: Library Of Congress

Copyright: Public Domain Mark

The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts in its collections. The Library is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office.

The Library preserves and provides access to a rich, diverse and enduring source of knowledge to inform, inspire and engage you in your intellectual and creative endeavors. Whether you are new to the Library of Congress or an experienced researcher, we have a world-class staff ready to assist you online and in person.

Visit: The Met Collection

Copyright: CC0

The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents over 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. The Met collection lives in two iconic locations in New York City — The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters. Millions also experience the wonder of The Met online, and theirs' is one of the prettier websites to navigate.

Since its founding in 1870, The Met has always aspired to be more than a treasury of rare and beautiful objects. Every day, art comes alive in the Met's galleries and through its exhibitions and events, revealing new ideas and unexpected connections across time and cultures.

Visit: Minneapolis Institute of Art

Copyright: Public Domain Mark 1

Inspiring wonder through the power of art. The Minneapolis Institute of Art enriches the community by collecting, preserving, and making accessible outstanding works of art from the world’s diverse cultures.

Visit: Morgan Library And Museums

Copyright: CC0

Located in the heart of New York City, the Morgan Library & Museum began as the personal library of financier, collector, and cultural benefactor, Pierpont Morgan. As early as 1890, Morgan had begun to assemble a collection of illuminated manuscripts, literary and historical early printed books, as well as old master drawings and prints.

Over the years—through purchases and generous gifts—The Morgan has continued to acquire rare materials, as well as important music manuscripts, early children's books, Americana, photos and materials from the twentieth century.

Visit: National Gallery Of Art

Copyright: CC0

The National Gallery of Art has an open policy for works of art in their permanent archives, which they believe are in the public domain. Images of these works are available for free — whether you plan to use them for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

Open Access image downloads are now available directly from the pages on their website. Over 50,000 images are available for download, and they will continue to add more images for free access as more works are photographed and as works of art enter the public domain.

Visit: National Museum Of African American History & Culture

Copyright: CC0 where applicable

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by an Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected more than 40,000 artifacts, many of which are free to download and use as you wish.

Visit: Saint Louis Art Museum

Copyright: Public domain

The Saint Louis Art Museum’s collection includes more than 34,000 objects spanning 5,000 years of history and cultures. More than 6,000 objects are currently searchable online. As part of our ongoing efforts to research and image the collection, objects are regularly added, updated, and enhanced.

Visit: Smithsonian Open Collections

Copyright: CC0

Download, share, and reuse millions of the Smithsonian’s images—right now, without asking. With new platforms and tools, you have easier access to more than 4.4 million 2D and 3D digital items from our collections—with many more to come. This includes images and data from across the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo.

Visit: The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Copyright: CC0

The Walters Art Museum is among America’s most distinctive museums, forging connections between people and art from cultures around the world and spanning seven millennia. Through its collections, exhibitions, and education programs, the Walters engages the City of Baltimore, Maryland, and audiences across the globe.

Located in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood, the Walters is free for all. The museum’s campus includes five historic buildings and 36,000 art objects. Moving through the museum’s galleries, visitors encounter a stunning array of objects, from 19th-century paintings of French country and city life to Ethiopian icons, richly illuminated Qur’ans and Gospel books, ancient Roman sarcophagi, and images of the Buddha.

Visit: Yale Center for British Art

Copyright: Open Access

Founded by Paul Mellon (Yale College, Class of 1929), the Yale Center for British Art is the largest museum outside of the United Kingdom devoted to British art. Located in the final building designed by Louis I. Kahn, the Center is a focal point for modernist architecture. It is free and open to all.

The museum’s collections include more than 2,000 paintings, 250 sculptures, 20,000 drawings and watercolors, 40,000 prints, and 35,000 rare books and manuscripts dating from the fifteenth century to the present. More than 40,000 volumes supporting research in British art and related fields are available in the Reference Library. The collection is rich with historic works by John Constable, Thomas Gainsborough, Joshua Reynolds, George Stubbs, and J. M. W. Turner, as well as works by major artists of the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries, including Hurvin Anderson, Francis Bacon, Vanessa Bell, Sonia Boyce, Cecily Brown, Barbara Hepworth, Anish Kapoor, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Yinka Shonibare, and Barbara Walker.

Visit: Yale University Art Gallery

Copyright: Yale University's Open Access Policy

Founded in 1832, the Gallery is the oldest university art museum in America. The museum collects, preserves, studies, and presents art in all media, from all regions of the globe and across time, with a collection numbering nearly 300,000 objects.

Founded in 1832, the Gallery is the oldest university art museum in America. Today, it is a center for teaching, learning, and scholarship and is a preeminent cultural asset for Yale University, the wider academic community, and the public.

Clarra & Underdogs @rijksmuseum


Millions of images from the EU, ready for you whenever you choose...


Visit: Belvedere, Vienna

Copyright: CC BY SA 4.0

Around half of the Belvedere collection is available online. Those interested in art can easily research the museum inventory and stroll through 900 years of art history from the Middle Ages to the present day. This pool is constantly being expanded, while at the same time the content is constantly being updated and adapted to new scientific findings. In addition to the highlights, art objects can also be seen online that cannot or only rarely be presented in exhibitions.

Visit: Berlinische Galerie

Copyright: Public Domain

A motley crew of classical and modern masters — mostly low resolution.

Visit: British Library On Flickr

Copyright: Public Domain

The British Library’s collections on Flickr Commons offer access to over 1 million of public domain images - illustrated British art, animals, maps and more. The release of these collections into the public domain represent the Library's desire to improve knowledge of and about them, to enable novel and unexpected ways of using them, and to begin working with researchers to explore and interpret large scale digital collections.

Visit: Europeana

Copyright: CC0 / Public Domain

Europeana provides cultural heritage enthusiasts, professionals, teachers, and researchers with digital access to European cultural heritage material. Why? To inspire and inform fresh perspectives and open conversations about our history and culture. To share and enjoy our rich cultural heritage. To use it to create new things.

Europeana give you access to millions of cultural heritage items from institutions across Europe. Over 9 million creative commons artwork, drawings, historical photographs, books, sound recordings, videos on art, newspapers, archaeology, fashion, science, sport, and much more. Free to use but not all approved for commercial use, so check individual listings.

Easily search and then browse categories in various subjects using the site's collection filters — name any theme, and Europeana's search results will probably return high resolution images, historical photographs, illuminated manuscripts, resources or pictures you can remix for commercial purposes...

Visit: Finnish National Gallery

Copyright: CC0

The Finnish National Gallery is Finland's largest art museum organization and national cultural institution. It has multiple sites: the Kiasma Art Museum houses 20th and 21st century art, while the Sinebrychoff Art Museum is dedicated to European art from the 17th up to the early 19th century. More than 600,000 visitors visit them every year.

The National Gallery works to preserve, promote, and educate the public on Finnish cultural heritage with myriad resources on a wide range of subjects. It also develops and exhibits national art collections; organizes diverse exhibitions that showcase both well-known artists and lesser-known ones; and makes art available to the general public. A strong national and international player in the cultural field, the Finnish National Gallery strengthens the power of art in culture and community.

Visit: Groeningemuseum, Bruges

Copyright: CC0

The Groeningemuseum is a municipal museum in Bruges, Belgium. Built on the site of the medieval Eekhout Abbey. Browse Flemish and Belgian painting categories covering six centuries, including artworks from Jan van Eyck to Marcel Broodthaers.

Visit: The Hirschsprung Collection, Copenhagen

Copyright: Public Domain

The Hirschsprung Collection features Danish art from the 19th century, located in Østre Anlæg, Copenhagen. The collection was the private collection of tobacco manufacturer Heinrich Hirschsprung and his wife Pauline, which they donated to the state in 1902.

Visit: Kunstmuseum Basel

Copyright: Public Domain Mark

The Kunstmuseum Basel is one of the most renowned institutions of its kind internationally. Its world-famous collection, the Basel Public Art Collection, includes over 300,000 works from eight centuries, from the late Middle Ages to the present day. The core, the Amerbach Cabinetwith its treasures of art from the 15th and 16th centuries, was bought by the city in 1661, transferred to the university property and opened to the public. This means that the city of Basel has the oldest public art collection in the world.


Visit: Mauritshuis, The Hague

Copyright: Public Domain Mark

The Mauritshuis is located in the centre of The Hague, the historical and political heart of the Netherlands. A small, world-class institution with a formidable collection of Dutch and Flemish paintings from the 17th century; the golden age of this type of art. The Mauritshuis consists of two striking historical buildings: the Mauritshuis, a city palace on the Plein in The Hague, and the Prince William V Gallery at the Buitenhof.

Visit: Museums Of The City Of Paris

Copyright: CC0

Paris Musées is a public institution that has incorporated the 14 City of Paris Museums into a single entity. Including staff in charge of management, collection monitoring and production of exhibitions, events and editions. Building into a treasure trove of free stuff you'll never stop gawking at.

Visit: Musée de Cahors Henri-Martin

Copyright: CC BY SA 3.0 Unported

Created in 1833 and located in what was the Bishop's Palace in post-Revolutionary times, this museum shows the work of the neo-Impressionist painter Henri Martin (1860 - 1943), and also possesses large collections relating to archaeology, ethnography, history and the fine arts. Each year, major exhibitions are organised to explore the history of the museum, the city, photos, the presence of important artists in Quercy, and their influence on culture from 1936 to the present day.

Visit: Musée Saint-Raymond

Copyright: CC BY SA

The discovery of dozens of marble sculptures on the site of the Roman villa of Chiragan, in Martres-Tolosane in the 19th century, still today represents one of the most impressive events in national archaeology. In France, no other ancient site has revealed so many works and very few places in the former territories of the Roman Empire.

Thus, the Toulouse public collections can be proud to present such a quantity of portraits and mythological sculptures from one and the same place. This digital catalog will, we hope, give amateurs, curious people and students the desire to come and observe this spectacular collection at the Saint-Raymond Museum, Toulouse Archeology Museum.

Visit: Musées de Reims

Copyright: CC BY

The museums of the City of Reims invite you to discover this digital museum and its database of collections. 15,180 works from museums, accompanied by individual notices, and 37,739 photos and images, are given to you today to see. 15,964 high definition images are downloadable and free to use, including for commercial purposes. In addition, a range of tools are available to grasp the collections and share them. Eventually, the entire Reims collection, rich in more than 100,000 works, will be unveiled, little by little.

Visit: Museo Egizio - Torino

Copyright: CC BY

A free selection of nearly 3,000 of the approximately 40,000 objects in the Egyptian Museum's collection can be consulted on this site. The images are freely downloadable and reusable.

Visit: Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg

Copyright: Public Domain / CC BY

MKG Online makes the objects of the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg publicly accessible on a digital platform for the first time. In addition to highlights from all areas of the archives, photos and graphics will be constantly updated, so the number of objects available online is constantly growing.

Visit: Muzeum Narodowe Krakow

Copyright: CC0

Popularly abbreviated as MNK, this is the largest museum in Poland, and the main branch of Poland's National Museum, which has several independent branches with permanent collections around the country. Established in 1879, the Museum consists of 21 departments which are divided by art period: 11 galleries, 2 libraries, and 12 conservation workshops. It holds some 780,000 art objects, spanning from classical archeology to modern art, with a special focus on Polish painting. The main purpose of the websites digitisation project is to create an innovative formula for publishing their representative image collection to promote Polish ancestry both inside and outside the country.

Visit: Nasjonalmuseet

Copyright: CC BY

The National Museum exhibits Norway's largest collections of art, architecture and design. The National Museum was established as an institution in 2003, due to the consolidation of the National Gallery, The Museum of Architecture, the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Meaning, the National Museum's online collection offers over 40,000 works to explore wherever you are, and now you can even make your own collections with a free account.

Visit: Nationalmuseum, Stockholm

Copyright: Public Domain Mark 1

Nationalmuseum is Sweden's premier art and design institution. A government authority with a mandate to preserve cultural heritage and promote art, interest in art and knowledge of art. The image collections comprise of painting, sculpture, drawings and prints from 1500-1900, as well as applied arts, design and portraits from early Middle Ages up until present day.

6,000 high resolution images of the most popular paintings in the museum’s collections are available for direct download at Wikimedia Commons.

The images are available as public domain. This means they are part of our shared cultural heritage and can be freely used for any purpose.

Visit: Nivaagaards Malerisamling, Nivå

Copyright: CC0

Art museum with a collection of Danish Golden Age art, Italian Renaissance & Dutch Baroque pieces. All of the works in The Nivaagaard Collection are part of our common cultural heritage and accordingly fall under the public domain. They belong to everyone – including you. The works belong in the public domain as the copyright on them has expired due to their age. You are therefore allowed to download and use the images of the works for any purpose without seeking authorisation from the museum or anyone else first.

Visit: Rijksmuseum's Rijksstudio

Copyright: CC0

The Rijksmuseum is the national museum of the Netherlands dedicated to Dutch arts and history and is located in Amsterdam. The museum is located at the Museum Square in the borough of Amsterdam South, close to the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and the Concertgebouw.

Makes a large part of the museum’s collection available to all, absolutely free of charge. Some 125,000 well- and lesser-known pictures can be examined in close detail. All hi-res. Users can interact with them, “like” them, share them with others and use them in any way they wish.

Visit: Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA)

Copyright: CC0

The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (Dutch: Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen) is a museum in Antwerp, Belgium, founded in 1810, houses a collection of paintings, sculptures and drawings from the fourteenth to the twentieth centuries. This collection is representative of the artistic production and the taste of art enthusiasts in Antwerp, Belgium and the Northern and Southern Netherlands since the 15th century.


Visit: Skokloster Castle

Copyright: Public Domain

Skokloster Castle (Swedish: Skoklosters slott) is a Swedish Baroque castle built between 1654 and 1676 by Carl Gustaf Wrangel, located on a peninsula of Lake Mälaren between Stockholm and Uppsala. It became a state museum in the 1970s and displays collections of paintings, furniture, textiles and tableware as well as books and weapons that amount to 20,000 items.

Visit: Slovak Galleries

Copyright: CC0

Web umenia is an online catalog of artworks from the collections of Slovak galleries registered in the Central Register of Artworks. Web umenia is an online catalog of 170,788 artworks of which 27,184 are public domain images.

Visit: Städel Museum

Copyright: CC BY SA 4.0

Established as a civic foundation in 1815 by the banker and businessman Johann Friedrich Städel, the Städel Museum ranks as Germany’s oldest museum foundation. Under a single roof, its collection offers a virtually complete survey of seven hundred years of European art from the early fourteenth century to the present, with focuses on the Renaissance, the Baroque, early Modern art and much more.

The Digital Collection is the main research platform for the Städel Museum’s entire collection. Each work is digitised, described and indexed with metadata and, in many cases, also supplemented by additional information, video and audio contributions. This gives art lovers worldwide and unlimited access to all works in the Städel Museum’s collection, including those not on display.

Visit: Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus

Copyright: CC BY SA 4.0

The Municipal Gallery in the Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau Munich, in the villa of the "prince of painters" Franz von Lenbach, bases its reputation as an internationally important museum on its unique collection of works by the Blue Rider. In addition to 19th-century Munich painting, Art Nouveau and New Objectivity, the collection includes works by Joseph Beuys as well as major trends in international contemporary art. Here is an overview of the individual collection areas.

Visit: Städtischen Museen Freiburg

Copyright: CC BY SA

The Municipal Museums of Freiburg enable open access to knowledge. Reusability plays an important role here. Illustrations of works owned by the Freiburg Municipal Museums that are no longer protected by copyright are available for download under the CC BY 4.0 license and can be used for private, scientific and creative purposes. With the online collection, the Freiburg City Museums are creating open access to the collection holdings, which are presented with around 800 highlights. The number of objects and available information is constantly growing. So it's always worth stopping by.

Visit: The National Gallery of Denmark

Copyright: CC0

SMK on Sølvgade in Copenhagen is an excellent setting for the Danes' art collection. But not all Danes have easy access to the physical museum and when you visit the building - and if you see all the exhibited works - you have only experienced approx. 0.7% of the entire collection.

Therefore, there is a huge potential in digitizing and making the museum's collection accessible. With support from the Nordea Foundation , we are working in the SMK Open project (2016-2021) to make the entire Danish art collection available for free use. Everyone must have the opportunity to pave their very own way into the world of art and draw information from SMK's large collection of knowledge and material. With SMK Open, the collections are opened in digital form as a giant toolbox full of freely usable building blocks.

Visit: Tartu Art Museum

Copyright: Public Domain / CC BY SA Images in Wikimedia Commons

Tartu Art Museum (Estonian: Tartu Kunstimuuseum) is a state-owned museum of art located in Tartu, Estonia. It was founded in 1940 on a private initiative by the members of local art school Pallas. This is the largest art museum in Southern Estonia.

The main collection consists of works of art by Estonian and foreign artists, associated with Estonia, from the 18th century until now. The collection includes around 23,000 items. The link above leads to a selection of works via Wikimedia Commons...

Visit: Victoria And Albert Museum

Copyright: Non-commercial use only with display size limits smaller than an Instagram post.

The V&A Museum houses more than 1.1 million objects and works of art in their collections. Their digital collection currently contains more than 450,000 images covering a wide range of topics, which include ceramics, fashion, furniture, glass, metalwork, paintings, photographs, prints, sculpture, and textiles. Require user registration. Images can be downloaded and used freely for non-commercial uses. Unless otherwise stated, users must ensure that any use of Content is credited as follows: © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Visit: Wien Museum

Copyright: CC0 / CC BY 3.0

The collection of the Wien Museum encompasses more than one million objects. In addition to objects related to the city’s history and daily life, the museum has a significant collection of Viennese art. The museum’s holdings also include special collections, including but not limited to fashion, clocks, the Prater, coins, medals, and archaeology.

The objects here are accompanied by further information and images for browsing or targeted research. The collection is constantly being expanded. Every object within the online collection is equipped with an image, which in many cases can be used for free (“open content”).

Visit: York Museums Trust

Copyright: Public Domain Mark 1.0

York Museums Trust is proud to be one of just a handful of regional museum services in the country which has had every single one of its collections designated by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

The scheme celebrates and promotes England’s most important and culturally valuable collections so that they can be fully enjoyed by many generations to come.

Artist: Jan Van Kessel

Creative Commons Licenses


Determining if an image is in the public domain can be done by checking its copyright status, usage rights and restrictions, and by using public domain image resources. Here are some ways to determine if an image is in the public domain:

  1. Check the copyright status: In the United States, a photograph could be in the public domain if it was created by the U.S. government, lacks a copyright notice, or if the copyright has expired. If the image is not in the public domain, it may still be possible to use it under fair use or other exceptions to copyright law.
  2. Check usage rights and restrictions: Even if an image is labeled as public domain, it is important to double-check the usage rights of each image before using it. Some images may require attribution or have other limitations on usage. It is important to be aware of other types of rights that can apply, including privacy rights, publicity rights, licensing, and trademarks.
  3. Use public domain image resources: There are many websites that offer public domain images, such as Public Domain Pictures, Library of Congress, Pexels and the wealth of resources on this very page. These websites offer images that are free to use and have no restrictions on usage. However, it is still important to double-check the usage rights of each image before using it.
  4. Use reverse image search: Reverse image search engines like Tineye can help you identify where an image is used on the web and whether it is copyrighted or not.
  5. Use copyright detection tools: Copyright detection tools like Filestack's Copyright Detector can help you determine whether an image is copyright protected or not.

It is important to note that while these methods can help you determine if an image is in the public domain, it is always a good idea to double-check the usage rights of each image before using it. Some images may require attribution or have other limitations on usage.

Yes, you can use some photos from the internet for commercial use, but you need to make sure that you have the legal right to use them. One way to do this is to use images with a Creative Commons license that allows commercial use.

Creative Commons licenses enable the free distribution of copyrighted works, including photographs, and allow the author to give others the right to share, use, and build upon their work.

Another option is to use royalty-free stock photos from websites like Pixabay, Pexels, Unsplash, PikWizard and Burst, which offer high-quality images that can be used for commercial purposes without attribution.

However, it is important to read the terms and licenses of each website carefully, as they may vary.

Additionally, you can obtain permission from the copyright owner, either by licensing the image through a photography licensing platform or by contacting the creator directly.

Remember that copyright infringement can result in serious consequences, so it is crucial to use images legally and responsibly.

Royalty-free images allows businesses license them for a one-time fee and use the licensed images as many times as they like.

The perk of royalty-free images is that there isn’t a need to renew the license for the photo once you’ve purchased it. However, royalty-free doesn’t mean that the buyer has exclusive rights to the image, but that other businesses and individuals may choose to use the image in their work as well.

Copyright-free images are provided by the photographer or owner and can be used by any person, but the ways they can use it are pre-determined by the photographer / owner of the image / picture. Meaning the photographer / owner may still maintain copyright on a particular photo or image and only allow it to be used by any person for non-commercial purposes. They may require anyone who uses their photo or image to credit them each time they get used. Or they may provide authorization for the image to be used by others in any manner they wish — including for commercial purposes.

Public domain images, on the other hand, are creative materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark, or patent laws, and anyone can use a public domain work without obtaining permission, but no one can ever own it.

In the United States, the age of public domain images depends on when they were first published or released. According to the United States Copyright Office, all works first published or registered in the United States before January 1, 1928, have lost their copyright protection, effective January 1, 2023. This means that any photograph created before 1923 is in the public domain and can be used without permission or attribution. Works published in 1928 will all be in the public domain as of January 1, 2024, and this cycle will repeat until works published in 1977 all become public domain on January 1, 2073. Therefore, as of August 2023, all works published before 1928 are in the public domain in the United States.

There are many websites where you can find copyright-free images. Here are some of the best ones:

  1. Pixabay: Pixabay is a community of creatives sharing royalty-free images, videos, audio, and other media. All content is released by Pixabay under the Content.
  2. Unsplash: Unsplash offers beautiful, free images and photos that you can download and use for any project. They have their own license, which essentially lets you use the images for free, in any way you like, except for using them to create a competing website.
  3. Pexels: Pexels provides free stock photos and videos that you can use everywhere. They have millions of high-quality royalty-free stock images and copyright-free pictures.
  4. Buffer: Buffer has compiled a list of 24 sites where you can find free images that you would actually use for your marketing. Some of the sites they recommend include Unsplash, Burst (by Shopify), Pexels, Pixabay, and Free Images.
  5. MoreThanDigital: MoreThanDigital has compiled a list of the best websites for free and royalty-free stock photos on the web for 2023. Some of the sites they recommend include Unsplash, Freerange, and Flickr.
  6. FreeImages: FreeImages has millions of photos, illustrations, vector graphics, clipart, icons, and Photoshop files that you can download for free. They also have a great selection of royalty-free photos, premium vectors, and premium clipart.
  7. Foleon: Foleon has compiled a list of 9 sites for free business stock photos. Some of the sites they recommend include Pixabay, Stockvault, and Pexels.

All of these websites offer high-quality images that are free to use without copyright restrictions. However, it's always a good idea to double-check the license terms before using any image.

Reading Free Art Treasure Chest: Open Access Images & Public Domain Photos 2 minutes Next What Exactly Is Fair Trade?

All The Ways You Can Use Free Art You Found Online

Universal Public Domain Dedication (CC0 1.0)
CC0 allows creators to give up their copyright and put their works into the worldwide public domain. CC0 allows users to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, with no conditions.
Allowed For Commercial Use
Attribution International (CC BY 4.0)
CC BY: This license allows users to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use.
Attribution-Share Alike International (CC BY-SA 4.0)
CC BY-SA: This license allows users to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use. But you must license the modified material under identical terms.
Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0)
CC BY-ND: This license allows reusers to copy and distribute the material in any medium or format in unadapted form only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use.
Non-Commercial Use Only
Attribution-Non-Commercial International (CC BY-NC 4.0)
CC BY-NC: This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator.
Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
CC BY-NC-SA: This license allows users to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms.
Attribution-Non-Commercial-No-Derivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
CC BY-NC-ND: This license allows reusers to copy and distribute the material in any medium or format in unadapted form only, for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator.