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There are thousands of low-resolution images on Art UK freely available for reuse under the terms of a Creative Commons licence or that are marked as being in the Public Domain. These licences have been made available with the authorisation of the artwork copyright holder and the participating collections.

Creative Commons licences are free licences that a rights holder might attach to an image. It lets people know how they can reuse an image without having to go back to the rights holder to ask for their permission.

The terms of assigned Creative Commons licences on Art UK are located on the artwork page and can be discovered using our licence filter on the artwork search page

Some collections have chosen to make their images freely available (open content) and have been marked Public Domain or licensed with CC0, this means you are free to use the image for any type of use. Please acknowledge the owning collection with a photo credit — this helps spread the word about their resources.

Go to our Tumblr and GIPHY pages to see examples of remixed images and GIFs made using our Creative Commons images (GIFs and memes can be created from the following licence types: CC BY; CC BY-NC; and PD and CC0).

Types of Creative Commons licence

There are six different types of Creative Commons licence, each with its own set of permissions.

If you want to share or reuse an image you first need to determine whether you need to use the image for non-commercial use or commercial use. Some Creative Commons licences permit commercial use while other licence types do not.

All Creative Commons licences require you to credit the original artist(s) and the person/organisation that owns the photograph of the work.

The six licence types: 

Attribution (CC BY)

This licence lets you distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon the image, even commercially, as long as you credit the creators of the artwork and the image. This is the most accommodating of licences offered.

Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)

This licence lets you remix, tweak, and build upon the image, even for commercial purposes, as long as you credit the original creators of the artwork and the image. All new works based on the original image must carry the same licence, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use.

Attribution-NoDerivs (CC BY-ND)

This licence allows for redistribution of the image, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to the creators.

Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)

This licence lets you remix, tweak, and build upon the image non-commercially, and although the new works must also acknowledge the original creator and be non-commercial, you don’t have to license the derivative works on the same terms as this licence.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA)

This licence lets you remix, tweak, and build upon the image non-commercially, as long as you credit the original creators and license your new creations under the identical terms of this licence.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND)

This licence is the most restrictive of the six main licences. You are permitted to download the image and share it with others as long as you credit the artist and photographer of the artwork, but you can’t change the image in any way or use it commercially.


Further resources

Creative Commons, Frequently Asked Questions

Art UK GIF collection: call for submissions