Adding the right image in your chart can add depth and traffic to your data (e.g. increases the likelihood of its sharing potential). But where should you go to find compelling images that are free or affordable and respectful of the copyrights of the creatives behind them?

In our world of instantaneous Google image search, it’s easy to grab the first image that catches our eye in the search results but not all of the images are legally eligible for our use. It is unfortunately often confusing or impossible to distinguish which ones are.

The Creative Commons licenses were built out to simplify the communications between originating creators and the rest of us who need to use or re-purpose their content for editorial or creative endeavors. There are many tools out there to help narrow your search results to the ones that are in fact available for re-purposing or modifications. These are our top picks:

Compfight is an amazing tool that scours Flickr’s collection for images that match your keyword search. Filter down to images that have Creative Commons or commercial licenses.

Flickr Creative Commons is a good place to browse for images that fall within a specific license you might be after.

Google Image Search can be incredibly useful if you know how to work around their search settings. The default image search will catch all images regardless of their copyright and the search interface hides these filters. To narrow your search results:

  1. Perform a keyword search as you normally would
  2. When the search results return, paste the following string at the end of the URL: &as_rights(cc_publicdomain|cc_attribute|cc_sharealike|cc_noncommercial)
  3. What you have left are images that can be used modified, built upon and shared so long as proper attribution is made.

Want to explore more Tips & Tricks to maximize the performance of your online chart content? Check out our FAQs section or contact us for 1:1 guidance.