By Sylvia Marino

4 Free Photo Sites for Copyright and Royalty-Free Images



Having good photos, imagery, eye-candy – is key to helping get your content read. Finding the right image is often difficult and even expensive. In years past a blogger or publishers either needed a paid subscription to a stock photography service or took a risk and simply downloaded and used images found online. The latter was sometimes met with a take-down request.

Take-down requests are often issued for website content that has been plagiarized. Under the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), an ISP must respond if a copyrightowner notifies the provider that the owner’s copyright has been infringed upon. – TechTarget

Free stock photography and image (line art, clip art) sites and services have sprung up allowing both budding photographers and artists to showcase their talents and websites to benefit from a growing library of visual content.

We looked at dozens of stock photo sites – some requiring registration, others saying ‘free’ offering few photos but links to paid services. And then there is a difference between ‘free’ – free personal use (wallpapers) versus free commercial use (websites, business cars, brochures, social media).

The below websites either support or are fully composed of, Creative Commons Zero (CC0) images that have been made available in the public domain. The owners and creators of these images allow for them to be modified, edited and used without attribution, royalties or copyright notice.


We love Pixabay, so much so that it is a built-in feature with PublishThis! Pixabay offers millions of photos and images and offers advanced search tools to find the right images for your article or project. Images are free for commerical use and no attribution required.


Unsplash offers great search and themed collections (4th of July, Halloween, neutral, skyline, etc.). There are both featured and curated collections which make finding a photo with the right theme, mood, and composition a great deal easier than basic search. Users can also help by tagging images to help others find the right photo when they need it.


Pexels curates images from a variety of free image sources to offer free stock photos that can be used everywhere – free for commercial use, no attribution required. All photos are under the CC0 license. The site offers a diverse search tool and the ability to upload and contribute photos. View Pexels license details.

Free Stock Photos is both an aggregator and upload source of images with Creative Commons (CC0) licensing allowing users to download royalty free images for use online or in print. The site has a nice search tool, categories, a photo editor for your photos or those downloaded from the site. Photos do have a watermark photo credit of the original photographer and site (e.g. Pexels or Pixabay).

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By Sylvia Marino
PublishThis Content Marketing Specialist - Here to bring you the best news from around the web pertaining to Social Media, Content Marketing, and Publishing Technologies. Over 25 years experience in online publishing including online communities, social media, editorial workflows, and content strategies.