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Images: Home

This guide contains information on finding, citing, and the fair use of images.


ethical use of images

finding images

Free Images for Educational Use



This Resource Guide provides information on how to effectively and ethically find and cite images for research projects.

Many thanks to the University Libraries at the University of Dayton for their assistance in compiling this guide. 



Copyright law exists to promote the creation of new, original material by protecting the rights and incentives of those who create content.

Original content is copyrighted at the instant it becomes fixed in a tangible medium. Creators no longer have to register a copyright to receive protection against unlawful use--it is automatic.

The doctrine of Fair Use, however, limits the exclusive rights of the copyright owner and makes reasonable public access to copyrighted works available for limited purposes. Determining what constitutes Fair Use in a specific situation can be difficult. Section 107 of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code) specifies four factors that are balanced together when determining whether a use is Fair or not:

  • The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  • The nature of the copyrighted work
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

The following guidelines may be helpful:

  • Images found on the Internet (Google Images, et cetera) might not be placed there legally. Visit websites created specifically for public domain images (no longer protected by copyright) and Creative Commons images where permission for use is granted by rights owners (see Guide tab "Free Images for Educational Use").
  • Images from ARTstor are legally available for campus educational use.
  • If you scan images from books and magazines, keep track of where you found the images. If you are going to use the same image every time you teach a course, it would be best to obtain a commercially-available image and the legal permission to use it.
  • Abide by rights owners' stated terms and conditions when you find images you would like to use.
  • Make use of tools to help you evaluate copyright status and likelihood of Fair Use. See "Resources" in the left column.

When U.S. Works Pass into the Public Domain
A handy chart showing length of copyright term based on date of work

DIRC--Digital Image Rights Computator
A tool intended to assist in assessing the intellectual property status of a specific image documenting a work of art, a designed object, or a portion of the built environment.

Fair Use Evaluator
A tool to help you determine if your use of an image or other work falls within fair use.

Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office, Copyright Quick Guide
Columbia University's guide to copyright. Information on the fundamentals of copyright, fair use, and other issues related to copyright.

Stanford University's Copyright and Fair Use Overview
Information on a variety of issues related to copyright.


Citing Images

This page will help you cite images. Be sure to keep track of the basic information needed for citing images:

  • Creator name(s)
  • Title of work
  • Creation date
  • Materials and dimensions
  • Location of work (museum, repository, collection, et cetera)

If you found the image in a book or periodical, you will need to cite the book's or magazine's information.  See examples below.

If you found the image on the web or in an online database, you will need to cite the database name, URL, identifying file number for the image, and date of access.  See examples below.

Your instructor may require you to use a specific style manual; consult the manual for the proper format of your citation.

Some examples:

Chicago Style citation, work of art:

Frederick, Ivan. The Hooded Man. 2003. Photograph. The Economist, cover, May 8, 2004.

Chicago Style citation, from an image database:

Gustave Courbet, 1819 - 1877. 1871-2. Still Life with Apples and a Pomegranate. Place: The National Gallery, London, Bought, 1951.

MLA Style citation, work of art:

Chihuly, Dale. Olive Macchia with Cadmium Yellow Lip Wrap. 1992, Brown glass and gold leaf, Dayton Art Institute, Dayton.

MLA Style citation, from an image database:

Monet, Claude. View of the Sea at Sunset. 1870-1874. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. ARTstor. Web. 1 Sept. 2009.

MLA Style citation, image found in book:

Louis, Morris. Saraband. 1959, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Art Since 1900. By Hal Foster, Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois, and Benjamin H.D. Buchloh. Thames & Hudson Inc., 2004. p. 440. 

APA Style citation, work of art:

Chihuly, D. (Artist). (1992). Olive Macchia with Cadmium Lip Wrap [Glasswork]. Dayton, Ohio; Dayton Art Institute.

APA Style citation, from an image database:

Monet, C. (Artist). (1870-1874). View of the Sea at Sunset [Image of Painting]. Dayton, Ohio; Dayton Art Institute. Retrieved September 1, 2009, from

Turabian citation (in note), work of art:

1. Dale Chilhuly, Olive Macchia with Cadmium Lip Wrap, brown glass and gold leaf, 1992, Dayton Art Institute, Dayton.

Turabian citation (in note), from an image database:

1. Claude Monet, View of the Sea at Sunset (1870-1874). ARTstor. JPEG file., image ID AMICO_BOSTON_103834117 (accessed 1 September 2009).


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