Fair Use and Images

So, you want to use an online image in a school project?

1. Is the image copyrighted? Assume it is unless stated otherwise – more on that later.

2. Is it considered Fair Use? Fair Use means that you may “fairly” use the image in certain circumstances. You must consider the four factors below to determine if your usage is fair:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes. For instance, in an educational setting are you using the image for, “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research?” Or, are you transforming an image and remixing it into something new?
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work. Has it already been published? Is it mostly factual?
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole. Are you only using a portion of the image?
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. Are you costing anyone lost profits by using the image?

For more help use the Fair Use Check List

3. If Fair Use doesn’t cover your usage, you must seek permission from the copyright holder.

But, wait! That sounds like a lot of work! Isn’t there an easier way?

Yes! Images that are in the public domain, Creative Commons, or are otherwise licensed for free reuse are OK for you to use. The following sites can help you locate these images.

Britannica Image Quest – must keep watermark

Morgue File – Check to see if attribution is required

Advanced Google Image Search – Use the bottom two highlighted choices depending on your needs.



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