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Sites with free or inexpensive stock photos

While the list below is far from inclusive, here are a few places to look for free or inexpensive stock photos. The dollar sign ($) indicates that the site contains images for purchase.

Getty Images

The world's largest provider of stock images recently made available for free many images in its library for use on academic and non-commercial sites. The site does have quite a few restrictions on usage of its images, so be sure to follow the guidelines carefully if you plan to incorporate any Getty images into your site. You may find the following links useful:

Important information about using images available online

Despite popular opinion, an image that is posted online or that appears in a Google Image search isn't free for the taking. Even images posted to free services such as Flickr or even Facebook aren't automatically free for you to use. The photographer, artist, or company that hires such an individual holds the copyright to the image. While some photographers or artists don't mind your using their works in academic or non-commercial (or maybe even commercial) projects, some do. You always need to make sure you're allowed to use the image. Not checking, at minimum, puts you into shaky ethical territory, or it could land you in legal trouble.

Even free stock image websites can have usage restrictions. Some free stock photo websites permit you to use an image however you wish as long as you don't sell the image or alter and resell the image. Other sites are more restrictive and won't allow you to use the image for any commercial purposes or to use it in a way that reflects poorly on the copyright holder. Some sites want you to provide an obvious link back to the source of the image, while other sites impose no limitations at all. Some photographers even license their works under a Creative Commons license that can allow for a range of usage scenarios.

To determine if you can use an image and to learn about any restrictions on its use, you must check the terms of service or usage. You can often find this information by looking in the footer of a website or by clicking the image. Read the material carefully and follow any posted guidelines. In some cases, you may not find any terms of use, which does not mean you're automatically welcome to use the image. Your best recourse is to send an email message to the person who posted the image to seek permission and to clarify your intentions. Especially in the case of commercial work, you should retain a list of where you found the source and the terms of use. Also hang on to any email correspondence about the image.