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Copyright Resources

Using Images

Images are ubiquitous online and very easy to copy. The key to reusing images in educational and research materials is to respect the rights that are associated with the image.

As with most content "fixed in a tangible medium," assume that any image is copyrighted until you can determine otherwise. Images may fall into one of these categories:

Free to Use: Images in the Public Domain and most government works are free to use without permission (see image databases below). Attribution is always recommended. 

Use with Conditions: Images licensed under a Creative Commons or other reuse license (IE: "For Personal Use" or "For Non-Commercial Use Only") indicate the conditions under which they can be reused, such as not for commercial purposes, with attribution, or with conditions to share materials under the same license terms. 

Permission required: Many images are not available with explicit reuse licenses. In these cases, permission to reuse the image should be sought

Look for the following red flags to help determine if the image you want to reuse is under copyright: 

  • Royalty-Free
  • Free Stock Photos
  • Free Download
  • Free Access
  • Free Registration
  • Free Account
  • Free to View

What Counts as an Image?

What counts as an image? Any non-textual illustration of information that is fixed in a tangible medium (not audio). The copyright owner of an image may be an author or a  publisher, but it could be the image's creator (especially in the case of photographs).

  • Charts
  • Drawings
  • Figures
  • Graphs
  • Illustrations
  • MicroSlides
  • Photographs
  • Slides
  • Tables

Copyright Free Image Databases

Clip Art

Microsoft's terms and conditions for use are not always clear, especially with clip art or other images. Microsoft does not own the images and can’t give permission for their use. The UMass Office of the General Counsel does not recommend the use of Microsoft Clip Art  in any document, PowerPoint presentation, or website that might be shared with others.

However, there are sources of public domain clip art. Public Domain clip art is not copyright protected and can generally be used for any purpose.  Regardless, you should always read the Terms and Conditions of Use to determine what you can and can’t do with clip art. 

Public Domain Clip Art sites: