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Copyright-Friendly Images

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Finding Copyright-Friendly Images on the Internet

Creative Commons Image by Nancy SimsStudents are increasingly asked to create visual presentations, and finding images for projects can be a challenge. Using images and pictures without permission is illegal. Images found on the internet are copyrighted unless they are in the public domain, the copyright has run out (generally 70 years after the copyright holder's death), or the author/creator has given explicit permission for use by others (for example, by using a Creative Commons license).

The law allows limited use of copyrighted materials through what is called fair use doctrine. Students can use images for educational purposes as long as certain guidelines are followed, such asusing a small percentage of the copyrighted material and not depriving the creator of income generated from the use.

Image by Nancy Sims via Flickr, Creative Commons licensed. 

Creative Commons Licenses Image by BockoPixIf you are in doubt about use, always seek written permission. Try searching some of the suggested websites below to find copyright-friendly images. If you want more information on copyright, the public domain, fair use, or the Creative Commons, explore the links on this page.

Image by BockoPix via Flickr, Creative Commons licensed. 

Searching for Copyright-Friendly Images

Pics4Learning Safe, free image library for education. Teachers and students can use the copyright-friendly photos & images for classrooms, websites, videos, portfolios, or any projects in an educational setting. 

Creative Commons (CC) Search Access to search materials provided by other independent organizations. Do not assume that the results displayed in this search portal are under a CC license. Always verify that the work is actually under a CC license by following the link. If in doubt, you should contact the copyright holder, or the site where you found the content. 

The morguefile Photographs freely contributed by many artists to be used in creative projects by visitors to the site. To acknowledge the artist's accomplishments, credit the photographer whenever possible. 

Copyright, Public Domain, Fair Use, and Creative Commons

Teaching Copyright: Frequently Asked Questions Teaching Copyright.org is an online copyright curriculum published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The ‘Fair Use’ Rule: When Use of Copyrighted Material is Acceptable Published by NOLO, a leading publisher of consumer legal information. 

Ensure You’re Legally Using Online Photos Written by social media attorney, Sara Hawkins. 

Ask Us! Chat logoYou can always contact the librarians in Reference Services for more information about copyright and using images on the internet.

Chat with a librarian 24 hours a day at denverlibrary.org/ask.

(The content of this overview comes partly from the Stanford University Libraries: Copyright and Fair Use website, licensed through the Creative Commons.)