Copyright and artists inspiration

Here is a piece of information I came across lately that could be useful for fellow artists.


First off I must say that I do browse photos for inspiration like all of us but I take my own photos to work from unless a client explicitly requests something specific or arrives with his or her own photo. It is not OK to copy someone else’s work whether photographer or visual artist unless you have permission and give credit where it is due.


In the sometimes nebulous world of copyright I always thought the best way to handle this is simply to not copy. Unknown to me before, there are two types of copyright notices that give us permission to use some photos. These photos have been posted by the original owners, photographers, artists and they posted these to sites for our viewing pleasure and to give us explicit permission of use if we want..


What you need to know about is “Creative Commons License”. There are several different types of license. One of them is the attribution license, where you can use the photographs as long as you credit the photographer and looks like this:

Attribution license

Attribution license



To find out more about this license and all the different types of licenses, see:  and


But what we are interested in is the category Public Domain or Creative Commons Zero (CC0). Typically, an artwork becomes part of Public Domain when the artist has been dead for a very long time. But for these photographers that are generous enough to share their work and give permission to anyone to use their work there is the CC0 license. By attaching this license with their work, they give up their right to come back and claim you could not use their work.

cco-licenseCC0 or public domain license


So here are a few websites where it is specifically mentioned you can use the photographs, add to your blog, modify into a painting, print and enjoy in your office:




Public Domain Archive


You can also look on other sites like


or Free Stock Photos


that will publish some CC0 licences photographs but some under other Creative Commons licenses also. So you need to be careful and verify the licenses before using anything.


Another item to verify is whether these sites have obtained model releases for any recognisable individual portrayed in the photo.


I hope this short blog helps with your creativity and search for beauty!


Site web Suzanne Bélair

Enviroart par Suzanne Bélair



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