Public Domain, Free Use and Copyleft Media
It feels good to get free stuff. In fact that’s probably why many of us get on the Web in the first place. But behind the usual blogs and Web sites lies untold fortunes of free-use content, all available for you to use legally and with a clean conscience. All the resources you need are there, whether to explore literature spanning the human experience or to find thousands of photos to spice up any project. There are even sites to help you understand all the copyright snags you might encounter along the way.
There are hordes of that ubiquitous stuff called "content" on the Web for the taking. ... read more »
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With the spread of digital cameras, everyone has become a photographer-and photographers love to share their work. The amount of quality photography online is truly inspiring. Add to that the fabulous textures, graphics, and other images that hordes of artists have made available, and the Internet has become the greatest resource for visual media one could imagine. Whether you're making a family newsletter, an original piece of graphic art, a presentation to your boss, or building your own professional Web site, these sites contain the images to turn it into a visual treat.
- The most abundant content on the Web is images, and the sheer size of what's available can be daunting. Most image search engines offer advanced features to narrow the lot substantially.
- Image quality and resolution vary wildly. Just when you find that perfect image, you realize it's tiny or has awful resolution. Know what size and quality image you need before entering the fray, and focus your search accordingly.
- This may seem like common sense to most, but it must be said: even the most liberally licensed content usually prohibits you from using it for any defamation or libel, or in an offensive or hateful manner. Most archival sites also demand you not use their content to directly compete with them (such as on your own online photo-archive service).
For image indexes and archives ...
's searchable archives focus on quality. The simple and serene design of this Web site is telling of the artistically talented people involved, and the thumbnail search results offer a wealth of information on the available photographs. After registering for a free account you can make use of the Light boxes tool, which lets you store your favorite images and even send your Light boxes to other users. All images in MorgueFile's archive are covered by a site-specific (SS) license that allows for almost completely unrestricted use.
encompasses all the truly innovative ways the Internet lets you explore the visual world. A similar site to MorgueFile, it's the extras that elevate Image*After above the frenzy of free image and texture sites. The site's search results pages are supremely navigable, with magnified versions of the thumbnails appearing as you roll over them. If you delve further into the site, you'll be amazed by the power of its advanced searches. Don't care what your picture is of, but have an idea what it should feel like? Try out the abstract search function by specifying some general image criteria such as brightness, contrast, warmth, and organic-ness, and Image*After will try to find an image suited to the general feel of your project.
's growing site hosts the photographs of almost 10,000 users. Many of the photographs are of exceptional quality, and all are under one CC license or another. The site is solidly built and generally well designed, with roll-over photo information pop-ups for the thumbnails.
is a solid photo archive that is largely in the public domain. While not as extensive as Yotophoto's indexing, as sleek as MorgueFile design, or as innovative as Image*After's extras, the images kept on this site are generally very high quality, if a bit random in subject. All are taken by the creator of the site, so the style is pretty consistent throughout. Organization by geography makes this site rather useful if you're looking for pictures of a specific American locale.
's less extensive but high-quality photo archive is worth a look. Although you won't find everything here, the quality and consistency of format of these free-use images makes a stop worthwhile.
lists all the government agency photo archives available online. Most government images are in the public domain, however some are not. The site makes no effort to help clear up the copyright issues in this regard, so check at the local site for each photograph before using any.
For tools and services ...
provides a handy online photo-editing tool that's built around simplicity and ease of use, as well as fun features like the oil-painting button that turns your photograph into a(nother) piece of art.
is based on the premise that perhaps the photo you need just doesn't exist yet. This infant site aims to fix that by taking requests for specific custom photographs, to be fulfilled by a growing legion of volunteer photographers in a number of countries and locales. You might not always get what you want, but if you just can't get to Mr. Pickle's Sandwich Shop for that all-important green profile, rest assured that you can find a photo of the place here.
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