Using Creative Commons images from Flickr

Let’s face it adding images to your learning resources is a double edged sword; If you don’t add them your resources can look pretty boring and not very inviting to your students, but adding them can be a real copyright minefield.

If I do want to use images in, for example my Moodle courses, paper based resources or PowerPoint presentations where can I get them? Can I just copy them from Google Images? (Note to our Copyright officer: I was only joking, it was a rhetorical question!)  The most simple way might be to take your own photographs and use those. Although that may pose a few problems of their own-

  1. If there are students in them have they signed a talent release form?
  2. Do you have the time to search for suitable images, locations etc.?
  3. Do you have the skill and knowledge to take a photograph that is usable for a given situation?

What to do?

Creative Commons is a great place to start- why so? Creative Commons is devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share.

What this means is that as long as an image has a Creative Commons licence within reason you are free to use the image as long as you correctly attribute the ownership of that image to the person who took the photograph and do not try to intimate that the photograph is yours or in our case the Institutes.

Great, but where do I find these images?

Flickr is a good place to start as it’s a popular website for users to share and embed personal photographs. Source:

Flickr is a huge repository of images from all over the world that covers endless subjects. Images uploaded to Flickr can be tagged by key words which allows you to search for particualr items by, for example location or grouping.

So how do I use Creative Commons and Flickr?

The clip below (thanks to Ghost Leg Media) is a really easy guide to search through Flickr for Creative Commons images. Just be careful that what you do choose to use is correctly attributed- just because it’s found in the Creative Commons area of Flickr doesn’t mean that you can use it without correctly attributing the author.


If you need further advice don’t hesitate to contact the Learning Innovation team.

Geoff Young

Learning Innovation


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