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Sharing images and sounds  

Help with the ethical use of images and sounds created by others.
Last Updated: Apr 7, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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The Fundamental Rules when using other people's work

Rule 1:  If in doubt, cite it!

Rule 2:  A formal piece of work with a bibliography requires a citation; an image in a newsletter or poster needs to have a caption - Source:________________

Rule 3:  If you use a copyright free image or sound, you are free to use it, but still need to acknowledge the creator - CITE IT, or use a caption!

Rule 4: If you want to use a copyrighted image or song, or are not sure whether or not it is copyrighted, you have to write to the creator/author/artist and ask permission.  Until you get that permission, you cannot use it.  Quite often the response will be if you pay for it, you can use it, and that is then a decision you need to make.

Rule 5: If you use work licensed under Creative Commons, you must acknowldege the artist and state what the licence is.

Rule 6: If you take an image from an image sharing site - e.g. Flickr or Google Images (licensed under Creative Commons),  you need to click on the image and find its source to get the artist - it is not sufficient just to give the URL.

Rule 7: If you use Britannica Image Search, the site will generate a citation for each image, and will give the name of the photographer/artist.

Rule 8: If you are using your own photograph or art work, it is good practice to give your name as the source - that leaves no doubt as to the artist, and provides a good role model.

Rule 9:  If in doubt, cite it!

Creative Commons

What is Creative Commons?

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.


Citing images in an academic paper

Citing Images

Labels, captions, and source information

Illustrations/images/photographs/graphs.tables all appear directly embedded in the document........ Each illustration must include, a label, a number, a caption and/or source information.

    • The illustration label and number should always appear in two places: the document main text (e.g. see fig. 1) and near the illustration itself (Fig. 1).
    • Captions provide titles or explanatory notes.
    • Source information - citation under the image or on the Works Cited page.

Britannica Image Quest

Millions of rights-cleared images from one trusted site.

Remember that rights-cleared images must still be cited - give credit to the artist/photographer/designer. 


Google Advanced Search


Creative Commons provides licences which allow us to use images without getting permission from the creators BUT EVERY IMAGE MUST BE ATTRIBUTED TO THE CREATOR OF THE IMAGE - IN OTHER WORDS, CITED!

Finding images on Google Images that are licenced for open use:

Open Google Images, find the Settings link at the bottom of the page, click on Advanced Search. 

The advanced Search page gives many fields to help narrow your search - it is worth looking at these.  For copyright issues, go all the way to the bottom of the page and find the field Usage Rights.  Click on the dropdown menu.  Depending on your needs, choose the licence which best fits.  The search results will then only contain images which carry the licence you have specified.

Alternatively, you can enter a search term first, before going to advanced images, and then look for the gear at the top right of the page, select Advanced Search, and then narrow your search as above.

Guide to copyright for students

  • The Ultimate Student Guide to Images
    Many school projects require you to use images but, before you download something from the Internet, make sure you understand its copyright status. Copyright violations are serious crimes, and many copyright holders, especially corporations and government organisations, will pursue litigation to protect their intellectual property. This guide will delve into copyright law in plain English so that you can stay on the right side of the law.

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