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Entertainment Arts

Finding and Using Images & Sounds

Most images found in print material or on the Internet are copyright protected. In some cases, permission to use images may be available under a license or subscription, or under an exception in the Copyright Act. You can learn more about copyright permissions in our Images--How to Find, Use and Cite guide.

Search for images that are copyright-free or available under Creative Commons licenses:

There are many places online to find free images that you can use. To be safe, remember to always double-check the licensing conditions of individual items. Here are some sites that we recommend:

Openverse, formerly Creative Commons Search
A meta-search tool that searches across more than 300 million images (and soon also audio and video). Can be used to find CC-licensed and public domain images on Google Images, Wikimedia, Europeana, etc. 

Flickr Creative Commons Search
Look under the “Additional Info” on an image page for licensing info and terms of use

Pixabay, Pexels and Unsplash
Free high-resolution stock photos depicting a wide variety of subjects. 

Wikimedia Commons
20 million freely usable image, sound, and video files. All files are Public Domain or CC-licensed. Check the “Licensing” section for an image to find any terms and conditions for reuse / instructions on attribution.

The WorldImages database provides access to the California State University IMAGE Project.It contains approximately 100,000 images, is global in coverage and includes all areas of visual imagery.

Finding Openly Licensed Images on Google

It is possible to narrow your Google search by type of license. Here are the steps:

  1. Go to Google search at
  2. Before you do your search, look for Settings (may be in different places depending on your browser and browser version)
  3. Choose Advanced Search from the settings menu
  4. Scroll down the page to the Usage Rights drop down. You should see 5 options where you can choose to narrow by different type of license.
  5. Select the Creative Commons licenses option and then perform your search. 

Finding Openly Licensed Music/Sound Effects

These sites provide access to public domain or creative commons licensed music (though sometimes with conditions related to attribution and non-commercial use, check here for more details on the different types of Creative Commons licenses).

        Over 33,000 clips from across the world over the last 100 years, available for personal, educational,

        or research purposes.

Do I need to cite?

Images obtained off the web or scanned from a print source, that you use in a presentation or research paper, must be cited (exceptions include royalty free clip art, such as the clip art available in Microsoft Word or Powerpoint.)

To cite image sources in a bibliography, reference list or works cited list, consult  the guides for MLA, APA, and other styles.