Can I use this image I found in a library resource?


Most images are creative works and fall under copyright law.

Whether you can use an image from a library resource depends on the answers to two main questions:

  1. Would my use of the image fall under fair use?
  2. What is the copyright status of the image?

Fair Use allows people to use copyrighted materials without the permission of owner for specific purposes including educational use. In most cases, using images in class projects that are not shared outside of the limits of your classroom is considered fair use. But sharing those assignments online or in other ways publicly requires a more rigorous fair use assessment. More Information on Fair Use. To improve your fair use case, you can use a lower resolution image, transform the image’s context, purpose, or meaning, or only use parts of the image.

Outside of fair use, you may still be able to use the image.

Public Domain: Images in the public domain are free to use. Images may become public domain because their copyright expired, their copyright owner designated them public domain, or there were created by the US government.

Creative Commons: Copyright holders can publish their works with one of six Creative Commons licenses to indicate what people can do with their images.

Author Permission: You can ask the author/creator/rights holder for permission to use the image. To find out who the copyright holder is look for image credit, captions, and rights information.

Don’t forget: You still need to cite/attribute your images!

Need help determining your image use under copyright law? Contact Sara Schumacher, Architecture Image Librarian for more assistance


  • Last Updated Jul 07, 2021
  • Views 889
  • Answered By Hillary Veeder

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