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Art History

How to Use Images

Works of art and images of works of art are copyrighted: that means United States Copyright Law (a federal law) grants the creator of an original work the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute their work. However, the rights are limited in duration and subject to some exceptions, or limitations, which permit people the use of a copyrighted work without the copyright holder's (the creator's) permission, under certain conditions.

Fair Use

The policy of "Fair Use" allows scholars, students, teachers, and others to use works that are still in copyright protection for the purpose of education and criticism. This does not mean that any use is fair as long as it is for educational purposes, but education is specifically mentioned as a favored purpose.

Fair Use & Tips

  1. Almost any image you find online or in library databases, or scan from a book, or photograph yourself may be used under the educational fair use policy for class papers, class presentations, and even websites if they are closed sites only available to your own educational community.
  2. You should still cite every image you use for the educational purposes above, describing the original creator and the source of the image you're using.
  3. For any work you publish formally (even in a department newsletter or anything publicly accessible online), you should use only non-copyrighted images (public domain images) or those made available for the purpose with a creative commons license; or you must obtain explicit permission from the copyright holder (sometimes you have to pay the copyright holder for the right to reproduce an image).
  4. Any published / publicly available images you use in your work should be clearly cited, describing the original creator and the source of the image, and the permissions you were given to use it, if required.