Using Free Images With Creative Commons Licenses - Mad Lemmings

Using Free Images With Creative Commons Licenses

Free Images with Creative CommonsDo not make the mistake of stealing someone else’s images. They might hunt you down and put the lawyers onto you. Or their poodle.  Not sure which is more dangerous!

Instead, use images with a  Creative Commons license.

This gives you the image for free, with a few conditions (which I will explain below).

A lot of people just hop on to Google and grab whatever image they like!

But unless you do the right research, this is a dangerous idea. Most of these images are copyrighted.

AKA not yours to use!

So instead, do the right thing and learn about Creative Commons below!


Where to Find Creative Commons Licenses

I don’t want to send you off searching under every rock for a photo, just because I scared you into NOT using Google anymore. Instead, I want to give you a few options for creative commons licenses.

Flickr Creative Commons Images

One of the simplest is to use the Creative Commons section of Flickr. And as we all know there are a lot of images on Flickr.

To really use the above link, you need to know what all the licenses mean. For that move on down to the next section.

Other Options

There are a couple of really cool tools out there for filtering the Flickr Creative Commons Images, with a more user friendly interface (ie. It is easier to use).

The only downside of those is that it is harder to “fine-tune” your search based on the exact license you need (and this can be an issue if you want to change the image like I always do).

That means you have to check the image you have found is available under the terms that you want to use it.

The tools recommend you check out are:


You can filter the licenses to a certain level on the left hand side of both of CompFight and Photopin. Usually only commercial or non-commercial (and creative commons sometimes).

Please check each image carefully before you use it.


Understanding Creative Commons Licenses

If you really dive deep into Creative Commons licenses, it can be a little scary, but the following will get you up to speed in no time.

License Types

As someone who wants to use an image on a blog post, book cover or ebook, you need to know what is allowed and what is not. So the following license types are broken down to explain what you really need to watch out for.

Creative Commons LIcensesAttribution –  A Must

All versions of the Creative Commons licenses require attribution.

This means that somewhere on the page/place where you use it, you have to link back to the original image/name of the person.

I normally put this at the bottom of my blog posts. Some people put it right below the image. Either is ok.

No Derivative (ND) – Don’t Change the Image

If there is a Non-Derivative license, it means you cannot change the image.

This is one of the key show stoppers for me when I use an image.

So as someone who adds filters, crops and adds text, these images are a non-go for me.

Noncommercial (NC) – Do Not Use For Commercial Purposes

A Non-Commerical license means you cannot use the image for commercial purposes.

If you want details on what “commercial” really means in this case, please consult Creative Commons here.


This is more of a sub-clause in the license, and means that you also allow your creation to be shared.

Which if you have based it on the works of someone else is only fair enough, right?


The image on the right breaks it down pretty well also.

Final Words

Staying on the right side of the law is easy if you use Creative Commons images.

There are lots of tools to help and even some people are giving their images away, as long as you attribute them :>

And if you have any other image tips, be sure to leave me a comment below!



About the Author Ashley Faulkes

Ashley is obsessed with SEO and WordPress. He is also the founder of Mad Lemmings. When he is not busy helping clients get higher on Google he can be found doing crazy sports in the Swiss Alps (or eating too much chocolate - a habit he is trying to break).

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