I want to build a website for a school. can I use photos with non-commercial licence considering that the school will not sell or make any money from these photos?

or the school is considered as a commercial institute anyway?

please, any answer?

  • 1
    Ask the supplier
    – Mark Read
    Oct 2, 2014 at 23:02
  • @MarkRead I looking for NC photos in the internet
    – Reda
    Oct 2, 2014 at 23:03
  • 2
    Non-commercial doesn't mean you don't have to pay for your images, although I think some Getty sites allow you to use their images for free for non-commercial purpose, like editorial or news stories - but you will have to credit them as per the instructions. Do people pay to be at the school? iStock or Shutterstock images you can buy for a few dollars, there are some free image sites, but they are pretty awful. What sort of images are you looking for?
    – Mark Read
    Oct 2, 2014 at 23:12
  • This is one... freeimages.co.uk
    – Mark Read
    Oct 2, 2014 at 23:16
  • It depends entirely on the specific license.
    – DA01
    Oct 3, 2014 at 17:16

2 Answers 2


I'm going to presume, for sake of a clean answer, that you'll be using "Creative Commons" licensed images. (You can set a search on Google and Flickr to look for only "CC-licensed images".)

Creative commons licenses will always specify exactly what you can and cannot do, in what circumstances. Nearly every license will begin with "If you use this image, you should offer proper attribution," but past that it's a toss-up. You'd be looking for something that allows noncommercial use. From the CC license, that's

"NonCommercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposes.

[A commercial use is one primarily intended for commercial advantage or monetary compensation.]"

That's what the CC website (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/) calls the "human readable" copy of the license. You can find a more thorough legalese version there too. However, "noncommercial use" is a really vague and debatable notion (especially in the US). I would stick to using content that is licensed for free commercial use, and avoid the potential legal headaches.

Lastly, I'm pretty sure that a "School" falls into neither commercial nor noncommercial use -- schools require educational licenses, I think.


I think you misunderstand the term "non-commercial".

What non-commercial means is "not for business". The school is a business and use of images for any institution - school or otherwise - would constitute commercial use. It makes no difference that you aren't directly making money from the images themselves. (which you generally can't do in any case unless you get permission) The images are used to promote a commercial business.

Commercial use means you are using images in a manner which is designed to gain clients, users, sales, etc. - basically commercial means "use for advertising".

What you need are Royalty free images most likely. Royalty free images don't customarily have any restrictions in use other than print on demand use (i.e. t-shirts, mugs, mousepads, etc). There are a ton of places you can get royalty free images.

here's a question with several options for images:
Where can I get images for commercial use?

  • "school is a business" = not necessarily true. Some are, some aren't--not that that is specifically relevant to commercial vs. non commercial. :)
    – DA01
    Oct 3, 2014 at 17:17
  • @DA01 Actually in terms of "commercial use" they all are. Even federally funded schools may not be "for profit" but they are still commercial institutions. Similar to how "non profit" organizations still require commercial use images.
    – Scott
    Oct 3, 2014 at 17:18
  • I completely understand and agree with your point. I suppose what I'm getting at is that these are all legal terms when it comes to understanding a license (as it is a legal contract) and as such, one needs to read the specific license to say for certainty if it's applicable in any particular situation.
    – DA01
    Oct 3, 2014 at 17:22
  • @Scott maybe in the us but schools in many places really are noncommercial
    – joojaa
    Oct 3, 2014 at 18:15

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