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Finding Images for Re-Use

Finding Images

Reusing an image is permissible IF one or more of the following apply:

  • The image is in the Public Domain
  • The image has been licensed for re-use (via Creative Commons or similar)
  • You have the permission of the rights holder
  • Your use falls under Fair Use

Public Domain in the United States includes images and printed works created in or before 1923 (but not sound recordings!).
Fair use is based on consideration of four factors. For more information, see the Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in the Visual Arts

Google Image Search

Find images, text, and videos you can reuse via Google

  1. Go to Advanced Image Search for images or Advanced Search for anything else.
  2. In the "all these words" box, type what you want to search.
  3. In the "Usage rights" section, use the drop-down to choose what kind of license you want the content to have.
  4. Select Advanced Search.

Note: Before reusing content, make sure that its license is legitimate and check the exact terms of reuse. For example, the license might require that you give credit to the image creator when you use the image. Google can't tell if the license label is legitimate, so we don't know if the content is lawfully licensed.

Types of usage rights

  • Free to use or share: Allows you to copy or redistribute its content if the content remains unchanged.
  • Free to use share or modify: Allows you to copy, modify, or redistribute in ways specified in the license.
  • Commercially: If you want content for commercial use, be sure to select an option that includes the word "commercially."

Finding Images for Re-Use

Checking Rights Statements

To check special terms of use that apply:

  • Click on "Terms of Use," "Legal," copyright statement, or similar option (see example below)
  • Read captions and collection description
  • Remember that Fair Use still applies even if site says "all rights reserved."