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Public Domain Clip Art Question

Susan asks…

Where can I get free clip art?

I need clip art to put on things that I plan to sell. Is there any websites that I don’t have to pay for a member ship?

scottparat answers:

The online royalty free public domain clip art:


Michael asks…

How come public domain sites that gives free pics to download charges a monthly fee?

sites like this one I can not download for free unless I pay them a monthly fee….I don’t understand how this is free then….then where can I find truly free pics?

scottparat answers:

Hello Bruce:

If you give it some thought, paying the website for access is not as unreasonable as it may seem; if you think of how we accessed public domain images–a.k.a. “clip art”–before the advent of the internet. I’m old enough to remember the days when you actually had to buy catalogs of clip art; and actually had to cut them or clip them out of the book, and then paste them into your layout.

The next stage of the game was to put them on floppy disks and CD-ROMS–which I remember selling when I worked for a now defunct company called Egghead Software. Clip art collections first came out as single CDs and then multiple volumes.

Again–consumers had to purchase them, but they had access to literally thousands of graphics (including images). Now–with the internet, anyone has access to potentially millions of public domain graphics and images.

I understand that many (if not most) Netizens expect to get things of the Web for free–literally (in some cases) right-clicking any image they see or dragging it onto their own desktop; whether those images are actually public domain or not. In fact–in many cases, that image was “lifted” from another website itself, but I digress….

Assuming the website http:/// is on the up-and-up… As Eric posted here, someone had to compile/catalog the images on that website, and it’s also a continual process to keep the catalog their updated.

Think of the website as a large stock photo agency–except that it contains public domain images (or “royalty free” images). Regular stock agencies charge their users a monthly fee for customers to access their catalogs of images. The only difference is that regular stock agencies pay the photographer each time one of the agencies customers use any photographer’s image.–because their images are purportedly public domain–do not have to pay the original photographer any royalties any time a photo is used.

The bottom-line is that if you want an image; unless you take it yourself, there’s always a price that has to be paid. Even going to a public library–where you can find and borrow CDs of public domain clip art; you’re paying for that with your tax dollars.

Hope this clears things up. Cheers.

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