search indicatorNeed Help? Search Tools

Find Biomedical Images You Can Use

Lane Medical Library’s Bio-Image Search...

  • Enables discovery of biomedical images you can use i.e., images with Public Domain & Creative Commons licenses
  • Aggregates biomedical images from many image sources
  • Displays results in four groups, from broadest reuse rights to most limited reuse rights


Screenshot of Bio-Image Search tabs and features

Reuse Rights

Maximum Reuse Rights

The rights associated with images shown in this tab are either:

  • Public Domain
  • CC BY (Attribution only)

You can re-use these images freely as long as the source of the image is cited.

Broad Reuse Rights

The rights associated with images shown in this tab are one of these five Creative Commons (CC) licenses:

You can re-use these images within the limits of the CC license.

Possible Reuse Rights

Images under this tab are sourced from public domain and Creative Commons sources, but they are segregated because there is some uncertainty about the image license rights. There are two sources of images in this section.

Pubmed Central (PMC) - articles published in Pubmed Central (PMC) under one of the six Creative Commons (CC) licenses.

They are segregated from other CC images because PMC explicitly states rights for each article but does not specifically state rights for images in articles. Images shown under this tab are from articles published in PMC under one of the six Creative Commons (CC) licenses or Public Domain. Given that the articles are available with CC rights, there is a good possibility that the images would also be available with a CC license. You should verify rights on these images with publishers.

Wikimedia Commons – a digital media repository making available images that are explicitly freely licensed or that are in the public domain (in at least the United States and in the source country of the work). Wikimedia Foundation thoroughly documents the types files that can and cannot be added to the system, however, since the repository is created and maintained by volunteers and everyone can edit it, there is a probability greater than zero that some inappropriately licensed images are in the repository.

Restrictive Reuse Rights

The images shown in this tab are copyrighted with restrictive terms; there will likely be fees associated with using these images.

Contact the publisher to request rights to use these images.

How It Works

  • The system gathers metadata on all images (titles, descriptions, license rights information, etc.) from each of the source sites and stores them in a Lane managed database (the Lane Image Metadata Database, LIMDB)
  • When you search, the system matches your search term against that database; images whose title or description contain the search term are included in the results. If search terms contain multiple words the system inserts “AND” between each of the words
  • Add Boolean operators to search term to focus results more precisely
  • Search = skin tissue: note the numbers of results for several tabs
  • Search = skin OR tissue: generates much larger numbers of results for all tabs
  • Search = skin tissue” NOT (connective OR disease): greatly reduces number of results both because of the NOT statement and because quotation marks on “Skin Tissue” returns only images with the two words contiguous

Relevance Ranking of Results

Images are returned in a relevance ranked order; factors contributing to relevance scores, most to least, are:

  • Search term matches image title exactly
  • Search term word(s) are found anywhere in image title
  • Search term word(s) are found in image description