by Anthony O’Brien, Copyright Advisor, University of Newcastle Library
This is the second post in a planned series that will look at considerations for copyright as part of being digitally dexterous.
Images are one of the more common content types that creators like to include in their materials and OER but can be problematic for re-use.
Why shouldn’t I just do a Google image search?
Images found via Google search can have varied copyright permissions. Exceptions in your country’s copyright legislation may not cover re-use in an ‘open’ environment, meaning that you may need to either rely on licensing or permissions for your re-use.
Looking for images that are ‘ready-to-use’
To simplify things, aim to use open content made available under Creative Commons (CC) or similar free licensing. Some content may require attribution or a copyright statement for re-use, so always check what you need to do to be able to re-use images. At the end of the post are four recommended image sites to help get you started.
Why are these licensed images so useful?
The majority of images you find online will be copyrighted. Depending on your intended use, you may inadvertently infringe if you just take something and re-use it. Where image content already has licensing attached, it is clearer what you can (and can’t) do with it.
What if I need to seek permission for an image?
Where you find an image that you absolutely ‘must’ re-use (and assuming it is not already appropriately licensed), you may be able to gain permission from the copyright owner for your planned re-use. Look for a contact email (or form), and spell out what your plans for the content are (MOOC or other educational use? Blog or another web use? Commercial use?). Your institution’s copyright office may be able to assist with this process.
You should include a copyright statement for this re-used content, to be clear that it is outside of any licensing you might apply to your materials or OER.
Four recommended sites:
- Pixabay – one of the best sites around for free media. Includes great vector graphics. Free licensing, where attribution is not required (but is appreciated).
- Unsplash – great site for images not included in Pixabay. Images are tagged well, so searching is easy. Free licensing, where attribution is not required (but is appreciated).
- Freerange Stock – up-and-coming site with some very artistic-looking images. Free licensing, where attribution is not required (but is appreciated). Some Public Domain content.
- WikiMedia Commons – contributions include options not covered in the others here, including artworks, etc. Licensing varies, including CC and Public Domain – check any requirements for re-use.