VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Creating Open Educational Resources

Using and finding Open and Free Images

Openly licensed images are great options for including in OER, presentations, publications, and more! Because they allow for no-cost use, sharing, and editing, you are free to use them without fear of violating copyright. This freedom doesn't apply to many images you find freely available on the internet; unless an open license is explicitly mentioned, assume the image retains traditional copyright protections. 

Each collection has slightly different copyright/licensing, so we recommend reviewing the copyright for the site/image before use. Click "more..." for an overview of copyright/licensing of the collection, which can be explored more in-depth on the site.

General Collections

Additional subject-focused collections

Diversity-focused collections

"Stock photos that accompany articles do more than illustrate subject matter. They have the power to shape perceptions of entire communities. When used critically, they can chip away at harmful stereotypes, pushing more accurate perceptions and understandings to the fore." from the Gender Spectrum Collection's "About this project." 

Open diversity-focused collections

Non openly licensed diversity-focused collections

These image collections feature diverse subjects, but are released under licenses that do not permit no-cost use, sharing, and editing as stipulated by open licenses, such as creative commons. Some also may have costs attached. While reviewing licenses for all images is important, we especially recommend reviewing licenses on these sites before you decide to use their materials. 

Museum, Library, Art, and Literature Collections

Government Collections

Additional Resources

Review some additional resources for images and open access content. However, not all of these resources are openly licensed, such as those which are library subscription databases and are thus subject to traditional copyright. Please review each database/item for copyright/licensing information.