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Finding Images: Public Domain Images

A guide to help locate images for your educational use.

Public Domain/Open Access Images

Notes on Finding and Using Images in the Public Domain

  • When finding and using public domain images, take the initiative to check the license status of a picture you want to reuse. Just because a picture is offered by a public domain image resource or a government agency, does not necessarily mean that that image has been cleared for reuse, non-commercial or otherwise.
  • Even if an image is in the public domain, if there are people in the pictures, they might make the picture unsuitable for any sort of commercial display, due to the privacy and publicity rights of the individuals pictured.
  • Always credit the creator and/or government agency responsible for the image that you are reusing whether it is in the public domain, has Creative Commons license, or is under a different status.
  • Many of these resources have additional information on usage restrictions (or the lack thereof). When in doubt, do a bit of research within the resource to look for additional information on the license status. If you still aren't sure afterwards, attempt to contact the creator, as this is sometimes the only way to assure that the image is available for your reuse.  


Nothing in this guide is to be construed as legal advice.

Copyright Free Image Resources

Picture Gallery

Image Credits

Image 1 - Photograph of "Aphthona flava flea beetle feeding on a leafy spurge" (from website) found here at the USDA Agricultural Research Service Image gallery.

Image 2 - .Photograph of "breeding penguins at Cape Royds" (from website) by Peter Rejcek, National Science Foundation, found here at the US Antarctic Program Photo library.

Image 3 - Photograph of seahorse taken by Mr. Mohammed Al Momany, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, found here at the NOAA Photo Library.