Part of using images and media responsibly is writing strongly and clearly about them in your work. If you include images or other media in your work, use these resources to help you properly cite your sources.
When can I use someone else's image in my own work?
In the United States, there are three main reasons you can use someone else's work (including images, videos, etc.) without asking for permission:
Although you may use many images without the author's permission, you still need to cite your sources and credit the author.
How do I cite an image or work of art?
Visit Reed College's Image Workstation Help for more information on citing your image sources. There are also examples of image citations in many styles, including:
The CUNY copyright guide offers practical advice and guidance for multiple audiences:
Things that fall in the "public domain" are not protected by copyright and are free to use. (You should still cite them in your work, though.) Works can enter the public domain in different ways--sometimes copyright has expired or never existed at all. How do you know if something is part of the public domain?
Section 107 of U.S. copyright law describes the Fair Use doctrine, which is essentially a list of how the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair to use. Uses such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research are generally covered by Fair Use. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:
Determining Copyright and Permissions
The University of Minnesota's Thinking Through Fair Use is a very thorough and useful tool to help you understand the "fairness" of your use of an image.
Copyright Crash Course
The University of Texas has an excellent copyright website that includes a crash course tutorial to help you determine if your use of an image or media falls under Fair Use.
Flickr contains millions of photos shared by users under Creative Commons licenses, including travel, nature, people, architecture, and design images. You can browse by license type or choose "Advanced Search" to limit to Creative Commons content.
Millions of freely usable historical and contemporary images of architecture, art, design, people, events, diagrams, maps, and more.
Yale's digital collections, including Peabody Museum, Center for British Art, University Art Gallery, Library Map Collection, and Walpole Library Prints and Drawings.
Open collection of icons in svg, png, xpm, ico, and icns formats.
Open collection of public domain clip art.
Public domain images from the Library of Congress.
NYPL's digital collections include hundreds of thousands of high resolution, public domain images.
You might sometimes see small icons next to media within Flickr or Wikipedia. These represent Creative Commons licenses for use.
Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that aims to increase the number of creative works that are available to the public for free and legal use—especially cultural, educational, and scientific content.
The licenses are designed to be straightforward and easily understood. You can use this chart as a guide, or read about Creative Commons licenses to learn more about how they are used.