I can search Google for images that I can commercially reuse without modification with the search tools. However, I don't know what "modification" counts as.

I want to display four images on one slide, meaning that one side of the image will be cropped. Is this modification (i.e. not showing the whole image).

No modification is shorthand for "no derivative works", as in the Creative commons "No derivatives" license I think.

  • I think you'll get better answers if you include more details/specifics about the "commercial re-use without modification" licence.
    – user3851
    Mar 26, 2016 at 20:18
  • Oh, I see the problem. Google just tells you something like "labeled for reuse" or "labeled for reuse with modification", etc. and doesn't give you the specifics of the linked image's licence. I don't think you'll get an answer that covers all the cases. It will depend on the specific licence behind each specific image.
    – user3851
    Mar 26, 2016 at 20:21
  • Perhaps "no modification" is shorthand for "no derivative works", as in the Creative commons No derivatives license.
    – user3851
    Mar 26, 2016 at 20:23
  • @Dawn Let's go with that :)
    – Tim
    Mar 26, 2016 at 20:23

1 Answer 1


I'm making some assumptions that might mean this answer doesn't apply the specific situation you have in mind.

Don't trust Google's labelling

Google can index images by license type, such as "labeled for reuse", or "labeled for reuse with modification", etc. However, I notice this indexing isn't perfect. Some of the images indexed under "labeled for reuse" are public domain images. I would have expected these to be indexed under "labeled for reuse with modification". There are two takeaways from this: Google's shorthand isn't a licence, and Google's indexing isn't perfect. You have to look to the original source to determine what license the content is available under. An alternative search engine that better indexes based on license is Creative Commons Search.

What does no derivatives mean?

Let's assume you find an image licensed as Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives (CC BY-ND). What does the "no derivatives part mean?"

The license summary says:

If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.

Adapted material

More specific language is in the actual license.

Adapted Material means material subject to Copyright and Similar Rights that is derived from or based upon the Licensed Material and in which the Licensed Material is translated, altered, arranged, transformed, or otherwise modified in a manner requiring permission under the Copyright and Similar Rights held by the Licensor.

A crop is an alteration. The Creative Commons FAQ says, "You must also indicate if you have modified the work — for example, if you have taken an excerpt, or cropped a photo".

You may "produce and reproduce, but not Share" this "Adapted Material".

  • Hmm okay...So imgur.com/Met68vU is essentially fine, I've just shrunk it. imgur.com/L8fMSKv isn't - it's covering the image so the image is "cropped".
    – Tim
    Mar 26, 2016 at 20:46
  • It might depends a lot on your country laws. Anyways, I guess it may be acceptable to crop images only when it doesn't change the "meaning" of that image. I don't expect that a crop of a 16:10 picture in a 16:9 picture, removing mostly patterns or pieces of sky, could be considered as an unacceptable "modification". On the other hand, a crop to remove a subject from a group photo is unacceptable for sure.
    – gerlos
    Feb 9, 2017 at 12:51

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