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Finding Public Domain Images on Wikipedia and Flickr

I’ve been finding a lot of terrific Public Domain images lately on Not all images there are in the Public Domain…some are licensed CC or GNU…but quite a few images have been release into the Public Domain by the copyright holder. As a matter of fact, Wikipedia has become my “go-to” place when I need images for my blog posts. I talk about this in much more detail in Limitless Blog Content.

 I was experimenting with search terms on Google to see how easy (or hard) it would be to gain quick access to the Wikipedia Public Domain images through Google. Here was one keyword string I used to gain some interesting results. You should try it:

 “hereby release it into the public domain” wikipedia

 All the images on my “Does Your Dog Do This” blog are from Wikipedia and nearly all of them are from the Public Domain.

Another fun trick for “scaring” up Public Domain images is to go to and do a search for “Public Domain.” Last I checked it produced over 19,000 results. Here is another cool Flickr trick: Go to Flickr’s Advanced Search ( and scroll down to the bottom. You’ll see a couple check boxes for Creative Commons. Check both “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed photos” and (this is the key!) “Find content to use commercially”. Then scroll back up to the top and type in whatever keyword you’re searching for. Every result returned can be used commercially (that means to make money from). Very cool. Oh, and BTW…expect a LOT of results!

4 Responses to “Finding Public Domain Images on Wikipedia and Flickr”

  • In Flickr advanced search, if an image is licensed under the Creative Commons for commercial work, does that mean you could use those images in a book you are writing? or a PDF, etc.

  • Laurel:

    Actually, Creative Commons and the GPL are public domain. There are many different liscenses for the works in the public domain, each with it’s own terms. Examples are Creative Commons/Share Alike, the GPL, the GFDL, the LGPL, the Mozilla Public Liscense (I think that’s what it’s called), and MIT or BSD style liscenses. Generally, you can use the things under these types of liscenses, but it’s a good idea to read them. Some have provisions for commercial use and redistribution. For example, you have to sned a copy of the GPL with your software, and make the source publicly available, if you redistribute software governed by the GPL. If you’re confused by all the liscenses, read them. If you’re still confused, start searching for “Liscense xyz in layman’s terms” or something.

  • On Flickr, those results are not quite the same as Public Domain. A Public Domain image means you can use it for anything, without acknowledgement of an author. However, most of the time, a CC license will at least require you to give a written notice in the publication to the author (“attribution”). If you don’t, you could be found violating the license agreement.

  • support:

    The restrictions certainly vary on Flickr…which is why it’s important to do due diligence!

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