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Finding and using copyright-free artwork

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Free License clip art attached. Image attribution required: https://www.vecteezy.com/

by Susan McNulty, CJE, The Stampede and The Hoofbeat adviser, J.W. Mitchell High School, Trinity, Florida

As scholastic journalism programs moved from classroom to homes this spring, students and advisers adjusted to a virtual newsroom. Just a few of the success stories of scholastic journalism across the country include Scarsdale High School’s MaroonThe Diamondback at the University of Maryland, and the Granite Bay Gazette at Granite Bay High School.

Yet student journalists confined to their homes lack the opportunity to capture photos to accompany their stories. They face the challenge of finding appropriate, copyright-free images and artwork to attract readers. Fortunately, free online sources exist to find the eye-catching artwork necessary to gain reader’s attention, while still observing copyright laws and providing proper attribution.

Here are four sources for copyright-free images and artwork for use by the public that do not require creation of an account, as well as links to additional sources and lessons that could be adapted for distance learning.

Google Advanced Image Search

Description: “When you do a Google Search, you can filter your results to find images, videos or text you have permission to use. To do this, use an Advanced Search filter called ‘usage rights’ that lets you know when you can use, share or modify something you find online.”

Directions: Fill in the blanks to complete your search. Select usage rights appropriate to meet your needs.

Google’s disclaimer: “Note: Before reusing content, make sure that its license is legitimate and check the exact terms of reuse. For example, the license might require that you give credit to the image creator when you use the image. Google can’t tell if the license label is legitimate, so we don’t know if the content is lawfully licensed.”

Google’s disclaimer: “Note: Before reusing content, make sure that its license is legitimate and check the exact terms of reuse. For example, the license might require that you give credit to the image creator when you use the image. Google can’t tell if the license label is legitimate, so we don’t know if the content is lawfully licensed.”

CC Search

Description: “CC Search is a tool that allows openly licensed and public domain works to be discovered and used by everyone. Creative Commons, the nonprofit behind CC Search, is the maker of the CC licenses, used over 1.4 billion times to help creators share knowledge and creativity online.”

Directions: Use keywords to search for the artwork you need. On the left side, click Licenses and choose CC0 for “no rights reserved.”

Vecteezy

Description: “High quality vector graphics with worry-free licensing for personal and commercial use.”

Directions: Use keywords to search for the artwork you need. On the left side, limit your search to Free License. Follow instructions for downloading and providing attribution if required

Pixabay

Description: “A vibrant community of creatives, sharing copyright free images and videos. All contents are released under the Pixabay License, which makes them safe to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist – even for commercial purposes.”

Directions: Use keywords to search for the photograph you need. Click on the photo of your choice. Follow instructions for downloading and providing attribution if required.

Additional Resources: 

Student Press Law Center Student media guide to copyright law

10 Best Websites for Public Domain Images

High-res public domain photos that are 100% free

by Stacy Fisher

Find free-to-use images on Google

JEA Curriculum Lessons:

Understanding copyright and creative commons

SPLC media law presentation: copyright

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