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Copyright-free images for commercial use
Presenting your visitors a wasteland of text is the best way for getting rid of them as quickly as possible. Today, images are essential for great posts: they loosen up your text and give readers some understanding of the content at a single glance. However, finding free images can be tedious, particularly if you are running a commercial website or blog. This article lists the best five resources for such images, that may be used even for commercial applications.
Pixabay is an enormous collection of quality public domain photos and cliparts. Neither registration for downloading is required, nor attribution or any sort of accreditation when using those images.
morgueFile hosts more than 200.000 images under an own license, that is pretty similar to public domain. You may use their images for virtually any application, however, you may not redistribute them. That means, you can't copy their image stock and create a similar website out of it. The downside: navigation is a bit complicated and finding really good quality pictures involves in general some work.
- Wikimedia Commons
Wiki Commons is the main source for Wikipedia's free images. Hosting millions of photos, drawings and diagrams, this is probably the biggest source you'll ever find. However, there is a catch: Search and navigation is downright horrific and each image is under a different license. Some are public domain, most are under a Creative Commons attribution license, that requires you to give credits to the image author. Not all of which are allowed for commercial applications either. You have to check each image's license individually for what is permitted and what is required.
Despite it's complicated name, stock.xchng (SXC) offers currently about 400.000 images. However, registration is required for downloading any photo or clipart and attribution is obligatory for any kind of use. Also, commercial application is not always allowed permitted.
The great flickr doesn't need an introduction. However, did you know, you can search flickr for commercially applicable images under a Creative Commons attribution license. Select advanced search and check corresponding options ... or simply follow this Link to see an example.
There are no public domain images on flickr, but when you are able to do proper image accreditation, it's definitively a useful source.
What ever source you choose, it's always a good idea to recheck an image's license before using it. And only because a website says "free images" doesn't necessarily mean, those images are free to use for anything you like. Also, make sure you know about model- and property releases ... but that's another huge topic. If you are running a commercial site and you never have heard of these, you'd better start reading now.