How to Credit Creative Commons Images Correctly


How to Access the Creative Commons Images 

There’s no doubt about it – using Creative Commons images is an excellent alternative to buying images from somewhere like Shutterstock or Fotolio.

We see so many questions asked about which images can be used freely on websites, Facebook and Pinterest and so on.

However just because you use Creative Commons images, doesn’t mean that you can use any image licensed under Creative Commons, place it on your website and think that this is all there is to it.

It’s not quite that straight forward…and before we start, a word of caution:

NB. We are not qualified in copyright law and the issues relating to copyrighted images and content. All we can do in this post is pass on what we believe to be correct way to credit Creative Commons Images.

See the 6 Different Creative Commons Licenses Here

Creative Commons has a total of 6 difference licences and each one sets out the conditions with which you must comply.

You can see the specific detail of the 6 Creative Commons Licenses by clicking on the link.

Creative Commons requires that you make it clear the terms under which you are allowed to use the image, and here is the exact wording in this regard:

Notice – For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. The best way to do this is with a link to the web page.


Lets work through a real example:

Later that Day by Paul Bica

Click on this image and you will be taken to the page location on Flickr, where you can select to search for images under the Creative Commons license.

Look to the right of the screen and you will see a  section headed License, where this image states: Some Rights Reserved


Here is an image of that.

Creative Commons License on Flickr

Click on the “Some rights reserved” link and it will take you to the Creative Commons License  (See the detail in the image below) under which the image is licensed, and it is important that you follow the instructions set out here.



Creative Commons Image License DetailThe use of this image is granted under Creative Commons 2.0. This gives us permission to use the Image providing we satisfy all conditions.

We are free :

  • to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work
  • to make derivative works
  • to make commercial use of the work

Under the following conditions:

Attribution – You must give the original author credit.

(NB. You could also see: “You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work”)

So, looking at these conditions, it is OK to copy the work onto this page AND crucially, it is permitted to use the picture on a Commercial page. (Generally speaking, “commercial use” means a message intended to help sell a product, raise money or to promote something, but do check this out on the License details).

In this example there is no mention of a specific way to attribute the photographer’s work.  I think common sense should prevail and  it would be daft not to attribute this image back to Paul Bica’s flickr page.

So, here’s how you would correctly credit the image:


later that day...Paul Bica on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0






Flickr supply the html for the image and this is where you get it from


Where to find the image html code on Flickr


Click the Share button just above the image.

and here is the html code for this image

<a href=”” title=”later that day… by paul bica, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”500″ height=”375″ alt=”later that day…”></a>

To credit the image properly you can add more wording and we’ve put our own wording and links in red so that they can be easily seen

<a href=”” title=”later that day… by paul bica, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”500″ height=”375″ alt=”later that day…”/>Paul Bica on flickr</a>and reproduced under <a href=””>Creative Commons 2.0 </a>

 Crediting Creative Commons Images Correctly


About The Author

Caroline Jones

I'm Caroline and I look to help small business owners create their own graphics by writing tutorials and tips on graphics editing software. I live in Wales , love Tartan and Coffee Ice Cream. You can read more about me here

  • Jaswinder

    Very informative site. I never knew a year ago about credit creative commons and then I learned about it and started to give credit.
    Thanks for the information.

    • thanks for stopping by Jaswinder. Creative Commons is a great orgnaisation.

  • Excellent article that every website owner, web developer, and web/business coach/consultant should read and take to heart. Thanks for sharing this and all the great articles on your wonderful website. -Steve/wiz. Online Presence Solutions.

    • Thank you Stephen. That’s very nice of you.

  • I only just recently learned about Creative Commons, when at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference in San Francisco, and upon meeting the guys from (And this turns out to be my HUBE BAD, since Creative Commons headquarters is literally 5 blocks from my home!). It is such a relief to know how to appropriately use images. The copyright issue has been something I’ve been very sensitive about and I’ve invested in both images and audio because I believe in rewarding artists for their contributions, and I don’t believe in stealing in any way, shape, or form. Thank you for this post – it’s most helpful and I am sharing it out, for sure! Let’s all ‘walk our talk’ and treat others as we wish to be treated. Acknowledge, promote, edify, attribute – and pay – for things we ‘use’ to enhance what WE DO!

    • Susan – how interesting! So if you have any specific questions then you can just pop down the road and ask them! Excellent.

  • Hello,

    I was needing this info, thanks!
    I wonder how does it work when we use the picture for a facebook post as we only have the description space and maybe doesnt look good to include credits in that area that we usually use to write something else related to the picture and for our own purposes.

    • Daniela – yes, this is a bit of a grey area indeed. What I would do is still credit the image and place it as the last thing you put on your post. this way it’s there, but not obstructing your main message. Would that work for you?

  • Well that was just what I needed – all in one place. Dislike not knowing when to give attribution or not. Was very insecure about it but not so much anymore. Thanks, Caroline!

    • Hi Sheila – I think that if you at least credit the image (even if you don’t always do it right), then this shows that your intention/motivation is in the right place.

  • Excellent explanation!! I am such a visual person and your step by step is great. Thanks

    • Hey Billie – how are you doing? Yes, we are visual folks too, and we also like things to be explained in a chronological order. Thank you for your comments – we appreciate them!

  • This is the best post I’ve read on this subject and I thank you for that. I also have used images in the past without attributing, thinking it was okay to do that for free images. Now, I just mention at the end of the post- photo or image courtesy of xxxx from Flickr. I just copy the image also.
    I will have to start doing it your way. Thanks

    • Hi there Owen – the whole area of license and attribution is really quite tricky, we think. I just hope that this does help you and others.

  • This is an excellent article. Thank you for the guidance. The issues around the use of images on the web are confusing to lots of people. Your article really explains things clearly.

    • On behalf of Caroline, I would like to say thank you for your comment Margaret.
      We know many people just grab an image from the search engine without thinking about where it comes from.
      We know because in the early days in our ignorance we did not know any better!
      Hopefully we are making amends by spreading the word of Creative Commons.

  • This is something that has always confused me and I want to do the right thing regarding using photos from the web, so thanks for this information Caroline, it makes things a lot clearer.

    • Thank you Barb for getting in touch. It is important to credit a person for their work, it just takes a bit of time to find out how.

  • Hi Caroline
    Always a subject that is confusing to me with all of the different attribution requirements, thank you for clarifying the best way to go about using the Creative Commons Images in such a way that we are protected from breaking any laws or copyright infringements etc.
    Michelle 🙂

  • A very informative post on Creative Commons Images. Are these in any way different from Public Domain Images which I addressed in a recent blog post on Free Stock Photography? –

    Thank you!

    • Hello Renee – welcome to our Blog and we’re glad you found this useful. The honest answer to your question is that without checking, I don’t know as I personally haven’t used any Public Domain images yet! It would be a question of checking out each of the licenses and comparing them.
      Caroline & Davina 🙂

  • Miss Jones, I think this an extremely helpful article and I shall be promoting it to everyone who asks me about the legalities of using images on the web.

    • Caroline

      Thank you Mrs B! I hope people find it helpful since we get so many questions asked around this subject. 🙂