Skip to Main Content

CHEM 2131: Chemistry of the Elements

Creative Commons leads the way in promoting open access to images!

What is Open Access?

"Open Access stands for unrestricted access and unrestricted reuse." (this definition is from PLoS (Public Library of Science), an open-access peer-reviewed journal). Open access doesn't mean that the copyright holder has given up their copyright -- items with no copyright holder or whose copyright has expired are in the "public domain."

Creative Commons is on a mission to make open access content more accessible and understandable by providing a set of licenses that can be used for open access content. The copyright holder gets to choose the license they want to apply to their own work.

Use this handy chart to understand the different permissions allowed by each Creative Commons license. For your infographic project, you're going to want to be able to modify & adapt images (put those new Photoshop skills to work!):

This figure gives a good overview of what each Creative Commons license permits you to do. For a text version, please see

Image credit: Creative Commons licenses by Foter (CC-BY SA)

Prefer to read about the license types?

Check out these license descriptions.

Need help choosing a Creative Commons license for your own work?

Check out the Creative Commons License Chooser

Finding open access images

Images from the sources listed below are generally available for use on the open web. Remember:

  • Always read and comply with the use restrictions for each individual image.
  • Always cite images someone else created.
  • Images should not be sold or used in commercial products or for commercial purposes. Generally, you're free to use these images in multimedia projects, websites, blogs, portfolios, etc, that are open and available to the public.

Image sources that use Creative Commons licenses:

Image sources that don't use Creative Commons licenses

These are fantastic image sources, but it can be harder to determine what rights you have for each individual image. Be sure to read the permissions carefully to understand if you're allowed to use and modify the images.