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Copyright and Fair Use

An overview of copyright and Fair Use in education.

When Can I Use Images?

Different rules apply if you are using an image as part of a class assignment versus creating something you plan to publish.

  • For Class: make sure you cite any image you use (see the Citation Guide for format). Most of GCC Library's Databases provide citations in correct format if you find the image in the database. Plagiarism and copyright infringement are not the same. Copyright infringement is illegal and has potentially legal and monetary consequences; plagiarism in academic terms can result in academic consequences (failing grade, referral to administration, academic probation.)
  • For Publication: Assume all images you find online are copyrighted. Look for an explanation of how the image can be used. The safest designation is one that is in "public domain." These are open for any use. Others may indicate you can use the image with proper attribution, which is the guideline for Creative Commons licenses. When in doubt, contact the creator and ask for permission or don't use!

 

 

Go to TheVisualCommunicationGuy's website for a larger view of Can I Use that Picture? infographic

Recommended Places to Find Images

Google Searches:

Images on a general Google search are likely copyright protected, but there is a way to narrow down the results to usable pictures and graphics.

  1. When performing a search, click on "settings," then "advanced settings."
  2. Then (under "usage rights") choose "free to use or share" or "free to use, share, or modify." 
  3. For high-resolution images, click on "tools," then (under "size") "large."

Graphic Design Tools

Image Collections for Research/ Education

"Open access" availability does not mean that the images in these collections are in the public domain--rather, it refers to their accessibility for research and educational purposes. For copyright and use restrictions, locate and read the image use policy for each collection.

Privacy and Copyright for Photographers