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Using Images with Confidence

Understand concepts like copyright, fair use, public domain, and Creative Commons licenses to ethically use images in projects

Terms & Definitions


  • legal rights granted to creators

Fair Use

  • the use of copyrighted materials for a limited or transformative purpose (Stanford Libraries)
  • places limits on copyright rights
  • if a use falls under "fair use", the copyright holder does not have to be contacted for permission or compensated for the item's use
  • fair use determinations consult these four factors and involve interpretation (Columbia University Libraries)


  • ascribing a work to a particular person or organization


  • permits or authorizes use under certain conditions

Public Domain

Creative Commons Licenses

  • six standard licenses, based on four conditions, used by creators to grant copyright permission for their creative work
  • all six licenses require that creators be credited for their work