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Images: Images

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words or a Thousand Dollar Fine

Found the perfect image for your PowerPoint presentation or a self-learning module? Before you add that image to your work, make sure it passes the copyright test. An image posted on the web does not necessarily mean that it can be reused. You need to ensure that the images you found are in the public domain or that you have obtained permission to use the image legally.

Don't Despair

There are several options that will ensure you remain in good standing with copyright law. When you start searching for that perfect image, try to obtain images that are in the public domain or come with an open license such as Creative Commons. Make sure to acquaint yourself with the concept of fair use. This information focuses on images, but these same concepts apply to other multimedia such as audio clips or videos.

Image Etiquette

While searching the web or within databases that contain images, always look for additional information on the image. Very often, the site will contain more detail on how you may use the image or how they would prefer you cite it. It is important to give credit for the image within the body of work (in-text) as well as adding the citation for your image to your reference list.


This is a brief overview of copyright concerns and available websites.

For more information on copyright please contact the Library.

What Type of Copyright?

Public domain 

These are images whose copyright has expired or they never had a copyright attached to them. Images include photographs, clipart or vector graphics. They can be used by almost anyone for personal or commercial purposes. Don't forget to attribute the work.

Open License   

An open license grants the right for anyone to use the image in any way but requires that the image be attributed to the original creator. If the original image is modified, the person must share their modifications under the same license. Creative Commons is the best known open license. Creators who license through Creative Commons allow their work to be copied, distributed and edited within the boundaries of copyright law. There are 6 levels of licensing. You are responsible for adhering to the assigned licensing and for the correct attribution.

All Rights Reserved Copyright and Fair Use ©

An image that is copyrighted  ©  requires you to seek permission from the creator/copyright holder before you use their work. Generally, fair use allows you to use a copyrighted image in an educational setting on one occasion. This would cover a lecture or teaching in the classroom. If you intend to include the image in a published work such as book or journal, or on a website or if you plan to broadcast the image, then you need to obtain permission to use the image from the copyright holder. Fair use would probably not qualify for images used in developed curriculum hosted on a learning management system. You still need to attribute the work.