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Copyright FAQ

Copyright Guidelines

General Information

  • The courts have determined that it is within fair use to download thumbnail images from a web site without asking permission or paying a licensing fee. 
  • However, downloading full size images from a web site does not meet the fair use criteria. Unless the site clearly states that it is permissible to download images for free, you must request permission and possibly pay a licensing fee to do so.

Fair use factors apply. Please refer to the Fair Use box of this Guide.

Where Can I Find Public Domain/Creative Commons Images?

Search Tools and Links Collections

Selected Image Collections


Be sure to check the license information on all linked content.  The linked material has been chosen as examples of Public Domain and Creative Commons Licensed works, however, it is the researcher's obligation to determine any use restrictions when republishing or otherwise distributing materials from the linked sites.

Many links and descriptions in this box are taken from Find Public Domain and Openly Licensed Materials (Ohio State University) and Public Domain and Creative Commons: A Guide to Works You Can Use Freely (Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library)

Can I Show Slide Images in Online Classes?

If it was legal to show slide images in class, it is legal to show them to students via live video conferencing or in recorded videos. As long as your new course video is being shared through course websites limited to the same enrolled students, the legal issues are fairly similar.

Many instructors routinely post a copy of their slides as a file for students to access after in-person course meetings, which also likely doesn’t present any new issues after online course meetings.

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