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Copyright for students and faculty: Resources for Students

Copyright This guide is intended to provide information about copyright and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have legal questions concerning copyright, please consult appropriate legal counsel.

How can you use it?

Articles/Book chapters


  • Generally if you are making a copy of an article or a chapter of a book it is assumed that the copy is for personal research purposes and therefore falls under the Fair Use guidelines. You should not post a copy of the article or chapter online in any form or distribute additional copies without seeking guidance first.


  • 17 USC §106(2) grants the copyright owner the exclusive right "to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work." A work consisting of editorial revision, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a "derivative work." In order to claim an infringement, the owner of the original copyright must show that the derivative work incorporates a portion of the copyrighted work in some form and is substantially similar to the original. For further information please take a look at the FAQ section of the Music Library Association 


  • Uploading or downloading works protected by copyright without the authority of the copyright owner is an infringement of the copyright owner's exclusive rights of reproduction and/or distribution. Files distributed over peer-to-peer networks are primarily copyrighted works, there is a risk of liability for downloading material from these networks. To avoid these risks, there are currently many "authorized" services on the Internet that allow consumers to purchase copyrighted works online, whether music, ebooks, or motion pictures. By purchasing works through authorized services, consumers can avoid the risks of infringement liability and can limit their exposure to other potential risks, e.g., viruses, unexpected material, or spyware. See the FAQ section of the U.S. Copyright office


  • All audiovisual works, such as films and videos, are subject to the exclusive rights outlined in Sec. 106. Although rights of reproduction, adaptation, distribution, public performance, and display belong to the copyright holders, the doctrine of fair use (17 USC 107) applies to these audiovisual works, as it does to all published and non-published works.

Photos and Images

Open Images:

Images from sources on this page are available for use on the open web. You are free to use these images in multimedia projects, websites, blogs, portfolios, etc, that are open and available to the public. When you use these images, you do not need to restrict access to your class or academic environment.

Always read and comply with the use restrictions for specific image sources. Always cite images someone else created.

Images should not be sold or used in commercial products or for commercial purposes.

Flickr Creative Commons

Flickr contains millions of photographs shared by Flickr users under Creative Commons licenses, and is a strong source for contemporary travel, nature, people, and design photographs.

Several overlays to Flickr offer enhanced search functionality and additional features.

·         Flickr Creative Commons

Flickr's Creative Commons portal. Browse by license type or choose "Advanced Search" to limit to Creative Commons content.

·         Behold

Visual search of Flickr photographs. Uses computer vision to recognize visual content, rather than relying on text tags. Limit to "free to use" or "free to modify."

·         Compfight

Enhanced search of Flickr content. Limit to Creative Commons.

·         FlickrStorm

Search overlay to Flickr. Retrieves images more images by using related tags. Select "Advanced" to limit to Creative Commons content.

·         Wylio

Searches only Creative Commons content in Flickr. Additional tools for blogs and websites, including resizing tool, photo credit builder, and code generator.


Open Access Photographs & Historical Images

·         Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online

Images from the Library of Congress, now in the public domain.

·         Wikimedia Commons

Historical and contemporary images contributed by participants. Millions of high-resolution images of art, architecture, design, people, historical events, diagrams, maps, and more.

·         World Images

Primarily historical images organized into 18 categories, including Women, Science, Cities, Natural World, Science, and more.

·         Yale University Digital Commons

Yale's digital collections, including images from the Peabody Museum, Center for British Art, University Art Gallery, Library Map Collection, and Walpole Library Prints and Drawings.

·          The Public Domain Review

This resource curates a collection of images, books, films and audio files that are available in the public domain. The collection can be browsed by medium, time period, tag and source. Once you are in a collection, you can also sort by the type of public domain rights that apply to the items (for example, whether it is in the public domain everywhere in the world).

·           Public Domain Pictures

This site offers access to free photos. Users have the option to pay the photographer for the image, but this is not required.

·           U.S. Department of Agriculture Image Gallery

The United States Department of Agriculture maintains a database of images pertaining to their work and areas of purview. Because the images were mostly taken for the government, virtually all are in the public domain. Any images that are not in the public domain are marked as such.

·           NASA

NASA's website offers access to many of their images, audio files, videos and other media, which are generally not copyrighted and freely available for use.

·           National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

As government images, almost all of the images in this collection are in the public domain, though the website states that you must credit NOAA if you use one of their images. They especially encourage educational use.

·           Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895: as seen in prints and archives

This digital exhibition by the British Library and the Japan Center for Asian Historical Records (JACAR) includes images of 235 prints held by the British Library which have been released into the public domain. Available in both English and Japanese.

·           British Library on Flickr

This is a collection of public domain resources from the British Library's collection. The albums included on this page are a great resource for inspiration and reuse.


Open Access Clip Art

·         Open Clip Art Library

Public domain contemporary graphics contributed by users.

·         Open Icon Library

Open collection of icons.

·         Wikimedia Commons - Crystal Clear Icons

Icon collection in the Wikimedia Commons.

·         Wikimedia Commons - Tango Icons

Icon collection in the Wikimedia Commons.


Websites with Free Images

These sites offer at least some images for free general use. These sites also contain advertising and/or offer images for sale.

Read each site's conditions for use carefully. Different images from the same site may have different use restrictions, too. Make sure you know what they are.

·         Stock.XCHNG

Online source for free stock photo images. Images are licensed for most commercial and non-commercial uses digitally and in print. Stock photography contributed by members. Owned by Getty Images & affiliated wtih iStockphoto.

·         Microsoft images

Clip art and photography from Microsoft and partners.

·         morgueFile

Search image tags or browse by category. MorgueFile license clearly explained. Affiliated with dreamstime stock photo.

Music Resources

More resources