How to Use the Creative Commons Image Search

It's half an hour until your deadline and you desperately need a free picture of a ceiling fan that you will crop and put in your newsletter. You're nowhere near a ceiling fan and you don't have time to find one and take a picture of it.

Don't worry, you can use Creative Commons Search to find images that you can legally crop and use. Here's how:

1. Go to the Creative Commons Search webpage. Type "ceiling fan" into the search bar. Underneath the search bar, make sure that the boxes "use for commercial purposes" and "modify, adapt, or build upon" are both checked. Click on "Flickr" to search through photos users have uploaded to Flickr (although CC Search allows you to search through other image sites as well).

2. Look through the image results until you find an image you like. Click on the image and it will take you to a page like this. Click on "Some rights reserved" under the heading "License" in the right column.

3. This is the image's Creative Commons license. You are free to share, remix, and make commercial use of this particular image, as long as you "attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work)." Not every license will say this, so make sure you check!

4. Go back to the individual image page. Near the top of the page, click the "Actions" button and then click "View All Sizes." Here you can download the image in your preferred size.

5. Go back to the individual image page. Click on the uploader's name. This will take you to the uploader's profile page.

6. Check to see if the uploader has specified a way he or she wants to be credited for the image. In this case, the uploader has not specified.

7. Crop the image to your preferred size and put it in your newsletter. Include a caption for attribution. In this case, the uploader's name "Chuck Redden" is a hyperlink to his profile page and the site name "Flickr" is a hyperlink to the individual image page. Include an asterisk.
Newsletter screenshot

8. At the bottom of your newsletter, put an asterisk and then a sentence that makes it clear that images from 3rd party sites are not affiliated with your organization. In this example, our sentence reads "*Photography and media sourced from 3rd party sites in no way implies support or affiliation with the CoolCalifornia Challenge, University of California at Berkeley, or any partners."

And there you go!