Digital images: Open access

This guide provides links to image databases and resources to help you find and effectively use digital images in your scholarly work.

Creative Commons

creative commons

A new standard licensing system has emerged designed specifically for digital content on the Internet, called Creative Commons. This enables people to licence their photos in the way they want to.

Creative Commons is an international non-profit organisation that provides free licences and tools that copyright owners can use to allow others to share, reuse and remix their material, legally. Creative Commons aims to increase the amount of creative work that is available in "the commons" - that body of work which is available to the public for free and legal sharing.

Creative Commons Australia is the affiliate that supports Creative Commons in Australia and administers the Australian Creative Commons licences.

Learn more about Creative Commons licences...

Creative Commons meta search: Please note this is not a search engine, but rather offers convenient access to search services provided by other independent organizations. CC has no control over the results that are returned. Do not assume that the results displayed in this search portal are under a CC license. You should always verify that the work is actually under a CC license by following the link.

Flickr: Creative Commons: many Flickr users have chosen to offer their work under a Creative Commons license, and you can browse or search through content under each type of license.

Flickr: The Commons Your opportunity to contribute to describing the world's public photo collections

Photo sharing sites

A photo sharing site is one where users can upload their digital images (usually from a digital camera but technically any file saved ina common image format eg .jpg, .gif, .png) to a 3rd party online server where they are stored and hosted for private and public display.

Major player:


  • Flickr hosts billions of 'user generated' images (a large proportion of these photos are now available under the various Creative Commons licences) and comes in 3 forms:

  1.  Free-to-search public website, available to anyone with an internet connection – no registration required, but users cannot upload images.
  2.  Free registration-required account for anyone who wants to upload, store or share their images – some limitations.
  3.  A subscription-based 'Pro' account (currently $25 per year) includes all the benefits of the free account without many of the limitations.

Minor players: