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Bing Images Search by License

Learn how to search images in Bing using the built in License filters.


September 6th 2013
September 6th 2013

Bing's Image Search provides various combinations of filters using which you can narrow down your searches to acquire the exact results you are seeking. You can search by size, type, color, layout, people, and date. However, unless you are just visually browsing -- there's no sense in looking for pictures that you cannot use. Yes, there's nothing stopping you from saving these pictures and using them in your presentations or elsewhere -- but did you know that this simple task may not be legal? So how can you determine which picture can be used legally, and which ones cannot be used? That's exactly the topic of this page -- we will explore what we believe is Bing's most essential filter above all other filters -- yes, this is the License filter. The License filter comes in very handy when you are in need of pictures which you can use, share, or even modify for personal or commercial use.

Note: This tutorial is part of an entire series on Bing's Image Search filters -- in this tutorial we will use the License parameter -- to learn more about Bing's other filters, explore our Bing Image Search page.

Follow these steps to get started using the License filter:

  1. Visit the Bing Image Search site and search for "Backgrounds". Figure 1, below shows normal search results for this term on Bing Image Search -- we used Bing's US site to search this content.

    Bing Images Search with no filters selected
    Figure 1: Bing Images Search with no filters selected

    Do you notice the Filters bar above the search results in Figure 1? Do note that the seventh filter, License has been highlighted in red.

    Note: Bing's Image Search page changes every day, and the screenshots and techniques on this page are current at the time of writing. Even if there are some changes, basic concepts explained on this page should be the same.

  2. Click on the License button -- and it will bring up the menu that you see in Figure 2, below.

    Options within the License menu
    Figure 2: Options within the License menu

  3. As you can see, this filter allows you to search pictures by the license attibuted to them. Essentially, you can choose from any one of these 5 variations -- additionally the All option returns results of all license attributes (see Figure 1, above). Let us now explore all these options:

    1. All: Default option (see Figure 1, earlier on this page), provides results of all pictures availble for your search term, irrespective of their licensing status.

    2. Public domain: Allows you to search pictures which has exclusively waived rights i.e. the owners of the picture have given the rights towards the use of these pictures to the general public.

    3. Free to share and use: Results obtained can be shared and used publicly but you may not have the permission to edit, re-use etc. You may also not have the option to use in a commercial environment. If any of these options are important for you, look at the next three options that provide further clarity on how and where you can use these pictures. Since this option is so much broader, it does have the ability to get more results when compared with any of the subsequent options.

    4. Free to share and use commercially: Brings up the pictures which can be shared and used commercially, but restrictions are applicable for making any changes or edits.

    5. Free to modify, share, and use: Limits your search to the pictures which are free to modify, share, and use. But note that modifying, sharing, or using them for commercial purposes might be restricted.

    6. Free to modify, share, and use commercially: Refines the search results and provides only those pictures which you can modify, share, and use for personal or commercial purposes without any restrictions. This option may provide the least number of results -- but it does provide the maximum flexibility in their use.

To use, re-use, or edit pictures that you found online through Bing's Image Search, you must either attain permissions or attribute their source, depending upon the license type for each picture. This information is clearly explained on Bing's Filter images by license type page.


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