Images are an important aspect of content marketing.

According to the 2022 Sprout Social Index, more than 60% of consumers consider images the most engaging types of in-feed social content.

When many marketers start searching for images to add to their blogs and articles, they turn to Google Image Search. Unfortunately, most of the pictures you’ll find online are subject to copyright terms.

Creative Commons is a solution designed to support content creators who want access to attribution-free content from the artists behind various animations, music, images and more.

Creative Commons is an organization that began in 2001. The group aims to help people share their creativity in a more “accessible” world. The work supported by Creative Commons appears all over the internet, in Wikipedia, Flickr and on millions of videos on YouTube.

Across the globe, pieces of content are given copyright protection from the moment they’re created. People cannot legally copy or distribute images and videos that they find online without the permission of the creator. However, many artists are happy to have their work shared and used. Creative Commons gives rights holders a way to show that they’re glad to permit specific uses of their content.

Creative Commons licenses

To indicate that they’re happy for their content to be shared, artists must place a Creative Commons license on their work. There are currently six Creative Commons licenses available. Some licenses allow people using another person’s material to make adaptations to that work, or use it commercially, while others do not.

If an artist wanted people to be able to adapt their content, but not use it for commercial purposes, they would choose an Attribution-NonCommercial license. Other licenses include:

  • Attribution – Users may adjust, build upon and use work commercially as long as they credit the creator.
  • Attribution-ShareAlike – Users may tweak and build upon work in commercial and non-commercial settings as long as they license new creations and credit the original creator.
  • Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike – The same as the “Attribution-ShareAlike” license, but commercial use is not allowed.
  • Attribution-Non-Commercial – Users can use the content however they like as long as it is not for commercial purposes.
  • Attribution-NoDerivs – Users can use the content however they want as long as it is not tweaked or adjusted and the creator is credited.
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs – Users cannot change the work or use it for commercial purposes.

How to find content with Creative Commons

Images made available to use via Creative Commons are easy to find on Wikipedia Commons or Flickr. It’s also possible to search on Google for visuals with a Creative Commons license. To search on Google:

  • Select the “Tools” tab on Google Images
  • Click on “Usage Rights”
  • Select the Creative Commons license suitable for your needs

Remember, before you use Creative Commons content on your social media graphics and blog posts, you need to check the details of the license. The creator is permitting you to use their work in a specific way. If you use the content in a way that is not allowed by the Creative Commons license, you will be subject to copyright law.