Skip to main content

Copyright: Using Images

Mae'r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg

Referencing Your Images

You should always attribute the source of your image. This means that you must cite with sufficient acknowledgement and include it in your reference list, bibliography, blog post, presentation or website. Keeping an accurate record will enable you, or someone using your work, to be able to find the original source.

Include the following information: Title / Author or Maker / Source of the image or film / Date produced and License Type (if appropriate).
Some image databases will include a suitable acknowledgement for you to use. There are also Creative Commons attribution tools available from the Creative Commons Toolbox below which will produce a suitable acknowledgment.

Quick Guide Table - Using Images

Using Images

Using images and audiovisual material can be challenging due to the multi-layered rights involved. There are a wide range of images and artistic works created by individuals or generated by computers that encompass a host of commercial models. As with text-based material, these are all covered by copyright whether they are from print or electronic sources. The types of images may include graphs, charts, diagrams, fine art, illustrations, cartoons, photographs etc.

  • Copyright for artistic works lasts for 70 years from the death of the creator
  • Usually the photographer owns copyright for their own photographs
  • For employees who take photographs as part of their duties, copyright would normally belong to the employer

To support students and teachers in the legal and ethical use of images, we suggest that you focus on the types of image you are easily permitted to re-use. Creative Commons licensed images, copyright free (public domain) and educational content collections are often appropriate sources to draw upon. Always check the terms and conditions of re-use.

  • Use caution if sourcing images online; does the person posting the image have permission to do so? Is it the original, authentic digital version?
  • Use image collections which are licensed for educational use or licensed Creative Commons images
  • It may not be free to copy or distribute an image without the permission of the rights holder or the payment of a fee. Royalty free is not copyright free
  • You may find that using a reverse image search engine is helpful in identifying commercial images for which payment to re-use is required or ownership is unclear
  • You should always acknowledge and attribute the source of any image you decide to use

Does the 'fair dealing' exception apply to images?
This is a grey area as you would probably wish to use the whole image and not a partial image.  You could claim 'fair dealing' if you used a low resolution image or decided that you could rely on an educational exception. This would need to be for non-commercial research purposes, for private study, quotation, criticism or review or illustration for instruction. 

If you wanted to use an image in a published work you should always seek permission from the copyright holder and keep a copy of your correspondence. Fair dealing would not be applicable to using a high resolution photograph in these circumstances.

Library Resource: Finding Images

Finding Images (Recommended Resource)

Moving Image Gateway

Where does your image come from?

Find the source of an image you find on the internet. 
This reverse image search engine is useful for tracking image use across multiple sites.
Search TinEye       How to use TinEye

Creative Commons (CC)

Creative Commons (CCL) are pre-prepared licences that are intended to help copyright holders distribute their work; they define how it can be used by others without the need to grant permission each time someone wants to use it.    

You may find it useful to know that you can carry out a search in Google to locate material licenced under Creative Commons using the advanced search feature and specifying the usage rights, try it here.            

Creative Commons, has a number of model licences which authors can apply ‘as given’ or adapted to their requirements.  The licences contain four main elements:

  • Attribution (BY)- You must credit the licensor of the work.                 
  • Non Commercial (NC)- You can only use the work for non-commercial purposes                 
  • No Derivatives (ND)- You may not create adaptations of the work.                 
  • Share alike (SA)- You may create adaptations of the work, but these must be under the same licence as this work.                 

These elements then combine to form six licences plus a final CC Zero or public domain licence which purports to waive all rights to the material it is applied to.               

  • Attribution-Only (CC-BY)              
  • Attribution-No-Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)               
  • Attribution-Non-Commercial No–Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND)                 
  • Attribution-Non-Commercial (CC-BY-NC)                 
  • Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike (CC-BY-NC-SA)                 
  • Attribution-Share Alike (CC-BY-SA)                 
  • Public Domain (CC-0)

It is essential to check the licence and evaluate what can be done with the materials in each case.

Permission to re-use this section given by the University of Liverpool Library Service.

Creative Commons ToolBox

Attributing Images - A Creative Commons Quiz

Creative Commons Kiwi

External Links