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Copyright and Fair Use: Images & Copyright

Answers to common copyright questions asked by librarians and faculty


Images created today automatically have copyright protection.You cannot assume you have permission to use images that have been posted on the Internet, even for educational or non-commercial purposes.  

When using images, you need to ask:

  • Does the image have copyright protection or is it in the public domain?
  • If it is protected by copyright, do I have permission to use the image?
  • Is it fair use to use the image for my purposes?

Featured resource

CC Search: Find content you can share, use and remix

CC Search:

A portal for searching sites that contain images with Creative Commons (CC) licenses. Search engines include Flickr, Google Images, and Open Clip Art Library. Not all images in these search engines have CC licenses, but the default search in this portal is for licensed images.

Public domain images

Images without copyright protection tend to be in the public domain because the copyright has expired or the image was created by the U.S. government. 

Listed below are some databases with public domain images. Not all of the images in these databases are in the public domain; be sure to read the copyright information and terms of use for each database!

Artstor IAP (images for academic publishing). You must have a subscription to Artstor. The Images for Academic Publishing program makes available publication-quality images for use in scholarly publications free of charge. Images come from museums and galleries around the U.S.