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Copyright - Working with Images

This guide will help you navigate U.S. copyright law in your scholarly activities.

Using Images

  1. How do I find free images online? When should I pay for images?
  2. Where can I find medical images?

1. How do I find free images online? When should I pay for images?

When you're using an image for a presentation, blog, or on social media, it's important to consider whether you need permission to use it. Consider searching for public domain or Creative Common images that are explicitly available for you to use for free; if these images don't meet your needs, consider licensing images.

Best Practices

  • Start with the assumption that all images are protected by copyright. Fair use may apply if the image is part of a larger work (such as one figure from an article), but using a whole image often won't fall under fair use.
  • Use photographs you have taken yourself. Unless you are taking photos as part of your job, you own the copyright for your own photos. (Don't forget to obtain a model release from any persons in your photographs. This is not a copyright issue but is a privacy issue).
  • Search for images with Creative Commons licenses or those in the public domain. In Google Images, change the Usage Rights settings under Tools to limit your search.
  • Purchase images from stock photo agencies and follow the license terms; you are not outright buying the image from a stock agency but are paying for certain uses of the image. Read the specific terms and conditions to see how you are permitted to use the image.
  • Seek permission directly from the copyright owner of an image; many will allow free use in non-commercial and educational works. Always ask first if they actually own the copyright in the image.

2. Where can I find medical images?

See the Image Collections LibGuide for links to online collections of medical images for use in education. Some are free for anyone to use, some are from resources the library pays for. If you are publishing these images anywhere (posting a presentation online, using in an article) make sure to check the terms of use and consider whether your use is fair use. When in doubt, ask permission.

Guide Information

Last Updated: Feb 27, 2024 3:07 PM