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Images: Public Domain

Find digital images in online and subscription digital image collections at UC Irvine for research, teaching, and presenting.
URL: https://guides.lib.uci.edu/images

Public Domain Images

A creative work in the public domain is unprotected by copyright. There are various reasons as to why a work may no longer be subject to copyright, such as being published before 1923 or having an expired copyright term. But once a work is in the public domain, it is freely available for the public to use without permission from the creator.

Works in the public domain have Public Domain Marks (PDM) or Creative Common Zero (CC0) licenses.

Rights Finder Tools

The following tools will help you answer these questions:

  • Is this image in the public domain?
  • What are the copyright restrictions for this image?

Featured Resources

Wikimedia Commons
Includes still images, videos and sounds with Creative Commons licensing.

Wikipedia: Public Domain Image Resources

Provides an extensive listing of image resources for various subjects.

LACMA Open Image Collections

Includes over 100 different resources such as museum digital collections, stock images, design resources, photo archives, and image search engines.

Find Images

Before using any image, please make sure to double check the image’s rights and the site’s fair use policies. Although an image may be in the public domain, a good practice to follow is to properly cite the image’s creator and/or site.


  • Finding and Using Public Images
    This page contains a list of helpful resources that provide high-quality photos in the public domain. As this is an old webpage, some of the links are no longer functional (e.g., ARS Image Gallery, US Navy Selected Images).
    Tip: If a resource has a broken link, type the name of the resource into Google and select the updated link provided by Google.

  • Flickr Public Domain
    Consisting of over 1,700 members and over 27,000 photos, this Flickr group contributes its images to the public domain. 

  • LACMA Image Library
    LACMA’s digital collections provide access to more than 53,000 images of artworks with more than 20,000 that LACMA believes to be in the public domain.
    Tip: Select the “Show public domain images only” checkbox next to the search bar.

  • Library of Congress's Free to Use and Reuse Sets
    This page features items from the LOC’s digital collections that are free to use and reuse. The LOC believes that this content is either in the public domain, has no known copyright, or has been cleared by the copyright owner for public use.

  • The Met's Open Access Initiative
    The Met offers all images of public-domain artworks and basic data on all accessioned works in its collection available for unrestricted use under Creative Commons Zero (CC0).

  • National Archives and Records Administration's Research Catalog
    The National Archives holds historical U.S. government documents, images, and videos. A majority of the items are in the public domain. 

  • NYPL's Public Domain Collections
    NYPL provides more than 180,000 items in the public domain on its Digital Collections site. Users can download and reuse its high-quality images for free.
    Tip: When typing in your keyword(s), select the “Search only public domain materials” checkbox.

  • Open Clip Art
    Open Clipart is an online media collection of more than 160,000 vectorial graphics, entirely in the public domain.

  • Openverse
    Hosted on WordPress, Openverse offers public domain images as well as images under Creative Commons licenses. 
    Tip: After typing in your keyword(s), select the “Filters” button at the top of the search results page. Select “CC0” and/or “Public Domain Mark” under "Licenses."

  • Smithsonian Open Access
    Users can explore and reuse millions of digital items from the Smithsonian’s collections. The Smithsonian has released these images and data into the public domain as Creative Commons Zero (CC0).

Some works may be under Creative Commons licenses. In these cases, creators grant the public permission to use their works as long as certain conditions are obeyed. For example, non-commercial use only or attribution to the creator.


  • Flickr Advanced Search
    Flickr is a popular photo and video hosting service.
    Tip: On the Advanced Search interface, select “All creative commons” under the “Any license” drop down menu.
  • Flickr Creative Commons
    This Flickr page allows visitors to easily search and browse through images under various types of Creative Commons licenses.

  • Gender Spectrum Collection
    This stock photo library features Creative Commons-licensed images of trans and non-binary models that go beyond the clichés of putting on makeup and holding trans flags.

  • Google Image Search
    The most comprehensive image search tool in the United States.
    Tip: After entering your keyword(s), select the “Tools” button on the search results page. On the new line of filters, set the “Usage Rights” to “Creative Commons licenses.”

  • Openverse (formerly Creative Commons Search)
    Openverse offers millions of images and audio content both in the public domain and under Creative Commons licenses.
    Tip: After typing in your keyword(s), select the “Filter” button at the top of the search results page. Under “Licenses,” select any or all of the six Creative Commons licenses.

Stock images are usually found in commercial collections in which case the image can be purchased for a fee. However, there are many free collections as well. Please be cautious of advertisements when searching and browsing through these sites.


  • Gender Spectrum Collection
    This stock photo library features images of trans and non-binary models that go beyond the clichés of putting on makeup and holding trans flags.

  • Gratisography
    Gratisography is a free stock photo website that offers the quirkiest, weirdest, and funniest stock photos on the internet.

  • Pexels
    Pexels offers over 3 million high-quality stock photos, royalty-free images, and videos for free.

  • Pixabay
    Pixabay shares copyright-free images, illustrations, videos and music. All content are released under the Pixabay License, which makes them safe to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist.

  • Reshot
    A bustling online community of emerging photographers and artists, Reshot presents free stock photos, SVG icons, and vector illustrations under the Reshot Free License.

  • Unsplash
    Unsplash has one of the largest free collections of stock photography on the internet.