Before I started writing posts for the Digital Union blog, I had no idea how much my post-writing process would resemble my approach to doing research. Each—for me, at least—requires that I assiduously attempt to resist temptation, which almost invariably presents itself in the tantalizing form of information I’ve serendipitously unearthed on fascinating topics that either are somewhat or (more frequently) completely off point. When I know little to nothing about the subject I’m working on, it’s even easier to fall off track. Further impediments emerge, at least in “blogville,” after I’ve written the post but still need some visually compelling images to liven up my effort.
That’s what led me to write this post, in fact: I needed some good images for my recent post on apps for Commencement activities. Eventually I found some satisfactory options, but my lengthy search prompted me to ask: what are some good resources for finding open source images, and what are the appropriate protocols for using those images?
Below is a list of open source image libraries, or banks, that I found both interesting and helpful. I hope you will, too. And what about those protocols? To engage in good “netiquette” practices, you should take care to investigate the copyright status of every image you use. Additionally, whenever you use an image, you should adhere to the appropriate attribution approach that is specified by the source where you located that image.
Incidentally, some of the most interesting resources below I discovered after following…erm…a rather less than linear path. [Perhaps the best way to find creative resources is to employ creative research strategies--?? Well, that’s a topic for a different blog post.] Finally, you may be interested in learning more about attribution protocols and copyright. I’ll provide some links for further reading about each, as well as some related topics, at the end of this post.
The Wikimedia Meta-Wiki page provides links to numerous web sources for images. Images are organized into categories; examples include sports, geography, banknotes and coins, and science, along with an extensive annotated list of general collections. Users of this resource are cautioned to read the site’s policy on image use and etiquette.
TechSoup, a technology resource for nonprofits, published the article “Where to Find Free Images and Visuals” back in November 2006; most of the resources in the article’s annotated list remain active and useful today.
New Media Rights (NMR) is a non-profit organization providing assistance to “anyone…who creates and shares their work online.” The NMR web site’s “how-to” offerings include “How to find free music, images, and video you can use or remix in your own creative works”, with links to a number of image and public domain resources.
Further reading links:
Wikimedia Commons OTRS (Open-source Ticket Request System) project page, regarding image use permissions
Mandy Barrington unpacks some of the Creative Commons copyright lingo
David Bushell’s June 14, 2011 Smashing Magazine article “Understanding Copyright and Licenses”
The New Media Rights organization’s February 15, 2012 article “Frequently Asked Questions about Copyright law” – everything you ever wanted to know about copyright law but didn’t know to ask
Willow Cook’s November 6, 2006 TechSoup blog post, “Borrowing Images from the Web: An FAQ”