If you work in web editing or design, it is important to know that only the copyright owner of a work has the right to post that work openly on the internet. Posting a work openly online constitutes “publishing” it, and publishing is an act that only the copyright owner has the right to do unless they provide permission for someone else to publish their work.

Options for posting images on your website include:

If you would like to incorporate materials that are available openly online (such as news articles, YouTube videos, etc.) into your website, providing a link to those materials is the easiest way. Linking to legally posted online materials does not require copyright permission. Please do not link to online materials that you know or suspect were not posted legally.

Similar to creating your own webpage, if you are creating a video or document that you would like to post openly online, please acquire copyright permission for using copyright-protected materials that you did not create in your new work.

Permission is likely not required for using an insubstantial part of amount of a work in your new work. For information about insubstantial versus substantial materials, please consult our copyright decision roadmap.

Citing images

Any images that you use should be cited with at least the following two pieces of information:

  • the source of the image (for example, the book title, article title, website URL, etc.), and
  • if available, the name of the creator(s) of the image.

Although there is no legal requirement to cite images that are no longer copyright-protected, it is still beneficial to cite them for academic integrity related reasons. Some websites, such as Pixabay, include images for which no citation is required.

If you cite an image according to a particular citation style, then your citation will include all of the information required for copyright purposes. For images that have a Creative Commons licence or another type of open access licence attached to them, there may be additional citation requirements. It is important to review the license details and “terms of use” for an image to check whether it includes specific citation requirements.

For more details, including information about how to cite Creative Commons licensed images, please see this image citation guide.

Online image resources

NOTE: Resources marked with an asterisk ( ) include both copyright friendly and full copyrighted images. For images from those resources, please look carefully at the license information or terms of use before using a particular image. If you are unsure whether an image can be used for your purposes, please contact us at copyright.help@usask.ca.

  • Flickr Creative Commons Search
    • Use the “any license” drop down menu to search for Creative Commons licensed images.
    • Look under the “taken on” date on the image page for licensing info and terms of use. All rights reserved notice means you will have to ask the creator for permission.
  • The Flickr Commons
    • Public domain photography collections supplied by libraries and museums from around the world.
  • Free Nature Stock
    • Royalty-free Creative Commons Zero (CCO) nature stock photos. 
    • Attribution is not required, but appreciated. 
  • Freepik
    • Attribution is required - “<insert photo link>, Image Title - created by Freepik.com”.
      • Copy the link to the photo and ensure it is visible or clickable around the image used. If your are limited with citation options, place it at the footer of the website, blog or newsletter, or in a credits section at the end your PowerPoint presentation. 
    • Note that sponsored Adobe Stock images are also shown during searches but are not free of copyright restrictions. 
  • Pixabay
    • Some of the photos and clip art published under CC-Public Domain license (CC0) (free of copyright restrictions) before 2019. Material posted after 2019 falls under Pixabay licensing, which is free for commercial use and no attribution is required. 
    • Note that sponsored iStock by Getty Images are also shown during searches but are not free of copyright restrictions. 
    • Attribution is not required, but appreciated. 
  • The New York Public Library Digital Collections
    • Collections range from fashion, posters, to maps and atlases.
    • Most images will be in the United States public domain. Other images will still be copyrighted. Review the Rights Statement found under the Item Data tab of each image before using.
    • You will need to attribute all materials used from the website with; “Courtesy of The New York Public Library. <www.nypl.org (if no permalink is provided) or the permalink to the image>", as per the the website terms and conditions, if using materials offline (for example in course materials)
  • openverse - Creative Commons Search
    • A meta-search tool. Can be used to find Creative Commons licensed images on Google Images, Fotopedia, Europeana, etc.
    • Remember to verify that works are Creative Commons licensed by checking the page for reuse content.
  • Unsplash
    • Free high-resolution stock photos depicting a wide variety of subjects. 
    • All photos are licensed under Unsplash licenseCan be used for commercial purposes.
    • Note that sponsored iStock by Getty Images are also shown during searches but are not free of copyright restrictions. 
    • Attribution is not required, but appreciated. 
  • Wikimedia Commons
    • Over 20 million freely usable image, sound, and video files. All files are either public domain or Creative Commons licensed.
    • Check the “licensing” section for an image to find any terms and conditions for reuse/instructions on attribution.
  • Anatomy Video and Imagery Diversity Project
    • Provided through the University of Calgary. 
    • The works provided via the website are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).
    • Follow the terms as provided by the Creative Commons license.
  • Clinical Anatomy - University of British Columbia
    • The works provided via the website are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).
    • Follow the terms as provided by the Creative Commons license.
  • Functional Neuroanatomy - University of British Columbia
    • The works provided via the website are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).
    • Follow the terms as provided by the Creative Commons license.
  • ArtStor via USask Library
    • A non-profit repository of digital images and associated catalog data from contributing museums, photographers, libraries, scholars, photo archives, and artists and artists' estates.
      • How to generate citations for images.
      • Permitted and prohibited uses for images found via ArtStor. 
        • Access is restricted to current students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the University of Saskatchewan, and walk-in users, for educational, research, and non-commercial personal use. Systematic copying or downloading of electronic resource content is not permitted by Canadian and international copyright law.
  • ArtStor Public Collections
    • "Artstor’s ever-growing public collections offer approximately 1.3 million freely accessible images, videos, documents, and audio files from library special collections, faculty research, and institutional history materials, as well as hundreds of thousands of open access images from partner museums."
    • Content comes from many different collections and each has its own license. All of the images can be viewed and downloaded without restrictions, but you should consult the rights data in each record to see if and how an image can be reused.
  • Internet Archive Book Images
    • Millions of historical images from books scanned by the Internet Archive are available and searchable via tags on Flickr. The pictures date from 1500 to 1922 and include historical photos and drawings.
    • Images are all in the public domain, and have no known copyright restrictions.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection Online
    • As part of its Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC) initiative, the Met now provides access to 400,000 high-resolution digital images of public domain works in its collection. Works covered by the policy are identified on the Museum’s website with the acronym OASC and can be used freely and without permission for non-commercial use, including scholarly/educational uses in any media. Includes iconic paintings, photographs, etchings, sculpture, etc.
    • "A sample object credit line format is as follows: "The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," followed by the specific information identified as the "Credit Line" on the Collection page for each work of art. The citation could also include the URL www.metmuseum.org."
    • The website’s terms and conditions stipulate that images believed to be under copyright  cannot be used for commercial purposes.
  • Museum of New Zealand Collections Online
    • The museum, also known as Te Papa Tongarewa, has made 30,000 high-resolution images from their collection available for download with no restrictions on reuse, while others fall under a Creative Commons licence.
    • At the Search Gateway, select the button for “with downloadable images”, which allows for images available for reuse. Select the image, then select the “download” button beneath the image. The copyright status of the Creative Commons license and a statement to credit the work will be provided on the download page.
  • Rijksstudio - Rijksmuseum
    • Contains images of painting from collections including Rembrandt and Johannes Vermeer that are in the public domain and are available for download with the creation of a free account. 
    • Click on the "more details" under the image for copyright notice, persistent URLs and other painting details. 
  • Natural Hazards Image Database - National Centers for Environmental Information
    • Usage: credit both the source (person / organization) and NOAA/National Geophysical Data Center.
  • USGS Denver Library Photographic Collection - United States Geological Survey (USGS)
    • Review the rights under each image. 
    • Images are considered to be in United States public domain, unless otherwise noted. Attribution is not required, but appreciated. 
  • United States Department of Agriculture: Plants
    • More information can be found on the webpage What is the PLANTS Database?
    • "This information primarily promotes land conservation in the United States and its territories, but academic, educational, and general use is encouraged."
    • For each image used, please cite the PLANTS Database as:
      USDA, NRCS. 2021. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov, mm/dd/yyyy). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC USA.
  • Great Plant Picks
    • Image and Logo Use
      • "Great Plant Picks plant images may be downloaded free from the Great Plant Picks website for use in other publications. The correct credit string must be published with any image used. If the term “Great Plant Picks” is not already included in the credit string, please add “courtesy Great Plant Picks” after the credit string to acknowledge the program."
  • Biodiversity Heritage Library
    • Biodiversity images that range from the public domain to Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).
    • Double check the Copyright and Reuse page for more information.
  • Cell Image Library
    • A Creative Commons license (which can vary for each image) and attribution can be found on the same page as the image of the cell after clicking on the thumbnail. Not all images are available for public or private use, permission from the copright owner maybe required.
    • If you use any of the files found in the Cell Image Library, there is Notification of Use email address to let the Director know.  
  • Morphbank: Biological Imaging
    • An open web repository of images for use in international collaboration, research, and education in the biological community. Images not password-protected are Creative Commons licensed.
    • Images are available under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license, or under a less restrictive Creative Commons license. Password-protected images may not be used without written authorization from copyright holder.
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
    • NASA provides public access to all their images, videos, and audio collections in a single online resource. (See also: NASA on Flickr Commons).
    • NASA imagery is generally not protected by copyright, so you are free to use it for educational or informational purposes. Note: this permission does not extend to any use of the NASA logo.
  • U.S. National Science Foundation - Multimedia Gallery
    • From their Copyright and Reuse of Visual Media and Text webpage, "Most text appearing on NSF web pages was either prepared by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties and therefore not subject to copyright or prepared under contracts that gave the Foundation the right to place the text into the public domain. The same is true of most publications available for downloading from this web site. You may freely copy that material and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation."
  • Soils of Canada
    • Citation: Canadian Society of Soil Science. 2020. Soils of Canada. [Online] Available: soilsofcanada.ca [access date]. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).

The above "Online Image Resources" section is adapted from The University of British Columbia Scholarly Communications and Copyright Office website. The original is available at Image Sources and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Getting help

If you have any questions or concerns about copyright, please let us know!

Copyright Coordinator
122.13 Murray Library

Note: The information obtained from or through this site does not constitute legal advice.


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