Images are important if you have a website or any kind of business.
It can, however, be difficult to find good images – that is why stock photo platforms can be a great solution. You just need to make sure you find a reliable platform.
So is Pixabay safe and is it really a free platform or is it a scam to stay away from?
These are some important questions you need to know the answer to BEFORE you start downloading images.
In this Pixabay review, I will, therefore, go into details about what you need to consider, to find out if it is the right platform for you or not.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this article should NOT be seen as legal advice. I am an online entrepreneur and I am sharing my experiences and what I have found through my research. If you need legal advice, you need to contact a lawyer instead.
Pixabay at a Glance
Pixabay is a legit and easy-to-use free stock photo platform. Before using it, you just need to be aware of certain limitations and the rules you need to follow not to violate any copyright rules.
If you are aware of this and it fits your needs, then Pixabay can be a great way to get access to free images and videos.
What is Pixabay?
In case you have not used Pixabay before or only very little, let’s start by shortly going over what it is and what it offers. Pixabay is one of the most well-known free stock photo platforms.
Since more or less all people need images if they have a website, do any kind of online advertising, or even for private use, platforms like this have become very popular.
On Pixabay you can find more than 1.7 million stock photos and videos. These are shared by other members of Pixabay.
It is very easy to use the platform. You just go to Pixabay’s website and then you type in the topic you are looking for images or videos of.
You can then choose if you just want to see all images or just photos, vectors, or illustrations. If you are looking for videos, you can also choose just to get video results.
Once you have found the image/video you want to download, you just click it and then you can see a bit more info about the image. This is also where you can see a download button.
You do not need to register for Pixabay to download assets, which makes it very easy to use. You can just go to the site and download.
However, you can register for free on the website, and it has a few advantages to actually register.
As you can see in the image above, you can download images of different sizes. You can NOT download the highest resolution/size unless you register.
Also, when you download an image, you have to do a small captcha to be able to download. If you register, you can download without this.
What can you use Pixabay images for?
More or less all stock photo platforms have some terms and conditions about how you can use the images and videos you download from them – this especially goes for the free ones.
However, Pixabay does not have too many regulations and it is not strict.
All images and videos are released under the Creative Commons CC0, which means you can use them for almost any purpose without asking for permission and without giving attribution. You can even use them for commercial purposes and in print format.
There are, however, a few important exceptions you need to be aware of.
Identifiable people or buildings:
Images of people that are identifiable cannot be used in a way that makes the person appear in a bad light or that they might find offensive without they have given consent.
This means you cannot just use a photo of a person to endorse your service in an ad. From what I have seen, it seems many questionable services are doing this online, but this does not mean it is a good idea.
So be aware of how you use identifiable people.
The same goes for buildings like for example the Eiffel Tower, London Eye, the Statue of Liberty, etc. Here the object owner needs to give permission to use images of his/her belongings.
According to Pixabay itself, you should be particularly careful with images depicting Walt Disney and Lego products, whose rights only permit editorial use.
So be aware of these exceptions if you decide to use images or videos from Pixabay.
Do not suggest endorsements:
Another important exception to be aware of is that you are not allowed to use images of organizations or people to make it look like they are endorsing your services or products if they are not.
This means that you should for example not use images of big brands like Coca Cola, Facebook, etc. and place it right next to your brand so it might suggest they are recommending your product.
Again, I regularly see people selling questionable products online that use the logos of famous brands to make it look like they are endorsing the product when in fact they are not.
That some people are doing it and getting away with it does not mean it is a good idea. In addition to being risky, it is in my opinion also unethical.
So be careful not to make it look big brands are endorsing you if they are not.
Is Pixabay safe?
As you can see, you can use the images and videos from Pixabay for many things. You just need a bit of common sense and be aware of the exceptions I mentioned above.
But does this then mean Pixabay is completely safe to use?
Well, for a free platform you are pretty safe, and I know people that have used Pixabay for years without getting into any trouble with violation of copyrights, etc.
However, even according to Pixabay itself, you cannot be 100% safe. I found an answer about this is PixaBay’s forum from the admin team.
Here you can see that Pixabay does a lot to make sure it is safe and that you can safely use all images and videos you find on the platform. But you cannot be 100% safe, as you can see someone from the admin team is saying himself.
This does not mean that you cannot use Pixabay. As mentioned, I know people that have used it for years without problems, and overall it is properly as safe as a free platform gets.
You, however, have to be aware of the terms and conditions on more or less all free platforms.
There are many Pixabay alternatives (see for example other free image platforms here) that also have good options but here you also just need to be aware of the exceptions and make sure to check the conditions on the particular site.
Again, I just want to mention that I am not a lawyer, and you should not take this as legal advice. If you are unsure, then you need to contact an actual lawyer.
Are Pixabay images really free?
You might be wondering if there is a catch and if the images and videos on Pixabay really are free.
They are actually completely free. The way Pixabay makes money is for example through advertising. Whenever you do an image search, you will at the top see some image suggestions from Shutterstock.
These are professional images and images you have to pay for, so just be aware of this. By having this as advertising and as an option for people that might want more professional photos, Pixabay can make money.
Also, if you would like to support Pixabay, there is a donation option.
You can find this through the FAQ section. As you can see in the image above, you can choose to donate in several ways like through PayPal, bank transfer, or by credit card.
These donations are also how Pixabay can fund itself and keep it running.
You can also donate directly to the contributors/creators of the images if you want to.
When you are on an image or video, you can see a small button saying “coffee”.
If you click this button, you can donate directly to that creator.
So Pixabay is completely free, but you also have the option to give donations to keep them going if you wish.
Final thoughts – worth it or not?
I must say that I in many ways really like Pixabay, and it is a legit platform. I think it is a great option to get decent images even if you do not have a budget for it.
Personally, I, however, decided to switch to a paid platform quite a while ago for several reasons.
First of all, because of safety where I feel the paid platforms often are even more secure. Secondly, because I used too much time finding appropriate images on Pixabay.
In addition to this, I found that because Pixabay is free, many people are using the same images, so I got tired of seeing the images I was using on many other sites as well, and it makes it difficult to make your content unique in the same way.
However, it all depends on your budget and personal preferences. If you have a bigger budget, Shutterstock is, in my opinion, one of the best stock platforms you can join.
If you do not have such a big budget but still want to go for a paid option, StockUnlimited is in my experience a very good option.
But if you prefer using free images and videos for now, Pixabay is definitely a great option and one of the best free stock platforms I have seen.
If you have any comments, questions, or have any experiences with Pixabay yourself, I would love to hear from you in a comment below.
You are welcome.
Thank you for this article. I started contributing photos to Pixabay a couple of years ago. I’ve used their images for years on my websites and have been very grateful to find them. I am happy to share images for non-commercial use, but I didn’t realize these could be used to sell products, services, etc. Some of my favorite artists have allowed their art to be used on my websites too, so long as I wasn’t selling anything. I’ve never asked for money for under1000skies (which is about showcasing homeless creatives) and never will. I want my photos to be used in the same way. So thanks for pointing this out. You don’t happen to know of any pay-it-forward photo sharing sites, do you? Thanks. ♥.
Glad you liked the article.
And no, unfortunately, I do not know any pay-it-forward photo sharing sites.
Great article! Just one point – pictures of buildings vary from country to country, because of laws called “freedom of panorama” (FOP). In the UK, we have have FOP so photos you’ve taken of public buildings are fine. In France, only buildings whose architects have been dead for a long time have FOP. So the Eiffel tower by day is fine, but bizarrely enough, by night it isn’t (Google it!) because the light bulbs are still in copyright! I posted a picture of the Grande Arche de la Defense on Wikimedia Commons and it was deleted as it’s too recent. If you Google Wikimedia Commons Freedom of Panorama, it gives full details – but public buildings can be OK in many countries.
Thanks for sharing your experience about this.
i my name is azahar i want to use pixabay images and videos for my youtube channel ..is it safe to download images and videos from pixabay and upload to my monetized youtube channel ?
All you need to consider about this is described in the article above. I know many people that use Pixabay constantly but it comes down to a personal choice whether you feel it is safe enough. Personally, I have chosen to only use stock images from a paid platform to be on the safe side.
In my point of view this is just a lawsuit waiting to happen. Pixabay don’t have any model release clearances, and their own private license makes people stand in a really bad legal suggestions. It’s basically as illegal as Napster 20 years ago.
Instead use serious services like Adobe og JumpStory.
Thanks for sharing your opinion about this.
I have also chosen only to use paid images to be on the safe side.
I am starting a art and printing service for online selling. Can i use images from pixabay images for commercial multi copy printing purpose to sell online? I wan to edit these images to create new one.
Please, advise me.
According to what I can see in their terms, that should be allowed. I have attached an image below so you can see the terms yourself. But I want to make it clear that I am not a lawyer and cannot guarantee anything like this. There can be some risk when it comes to free platforms like this as mentioned in the article.
If you have any doubts, you should contact a lawyer or try to contact Pixabay and ask about your specific scenario.
Hope this helps.
Im Ying from Viet Nam. Im not a professional photographer but i want to share my photos for free to everyone, with editorial use ONLY. And of course Pixabay got both editorial and commercial use. I dont know what i should do now…
I am not sure about that. I would suggest you contact Pixabay’s support to make sure what you need to do in this situation.
thx for the article,
i just want to ask a question,
as iam beggining to make doodles videos using doodly,
can incorporate pictures like pixabay or canva vectors without being annoyed tomorrow,
iam also planning to monetize my videos on youtube,
i read, and read all the conditions of use, everything seems okay, but i still doubt,
and thanks again
I am sorry but I do not completely understand what you are asking – can you try to ask again in a different way?
About the conditions for use of Pixabay in YouTube videos then I do not see why not. But as mentioned, I am not a legal advisor so if you have any doubts after reading their conditions, it is better to contact them directly and ask.