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 document General Application of the Fair Dealing Guidelines.

Citing Images

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

  • The source of the image (e.g., 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, 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 CC-licensed images.
    • Look under the “Additional Info” on an image page for licensing info and terms of use.
  • 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 search but are not free of copyright restrictions. 
  • Pixabay
    • Photos and clip art published under CC-Public Domain license (free of copyright restrictions).
    • Note that sponsored Shutterstock images are also shown during searches but are not free of copyright restrictions. Those images are marked with a gray background and display the Shutterstock logo.
    • 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 Copyright Notice and Rights Statements under 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
  • 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 following the links to resources that appear in your results.
  • Unsplash
    • Free high-resolution stock photos depicting a wide variety of subjects. Ten new photos are released every 10 days.
    • All photos are licensed under CC License Zero. Can be used for commercial purposes.
  • Wikimedia Commons
    • 20 million freely usable image, sound, and video files. All files are Public Domain or CC-licensed.
    • Check the “Licensing” section for an image to find any terms and conditions for reuse / instructions on attribution.
  • ArtStor’s 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.
  • French Revolution Digital Archive
  • 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.
    • Image citations must include the creator and source and the URL “www.metmuseum.org.” The website’s terms and conditions stipulate that images should not be modified and cannot be used for commercial purposes.
  • Museum of New Zealand Collections Online
    • The museum, also called Te Papa Tongarewa, has made 30,000 high-resolution images from their collection available for download and reuse under a CC BY-NC-ND 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 attribution statement will be provided on the download page.
  • Rijksstudio - Rijksmuseum
    • Many collections including Rembrandt and Johannes Vermeer images in the Public Domain that are available for download with the creation of a free account. 
    • Click on the "more details" under the image for Copyright, 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.
  • Photographic Library - United States Geological Survey (USGS)
    • Review the rights under each image. 
    • Images are considered to be in United States Public Domain. Attribution is not required, but appreciated. 
  • Health Education Assets Library (HEAL) - University of Utah
    • Over 22,000 freely available digital images made available for use with a Creative Commons licence. The licence can be found underneath the full size image. Click on the link to view the licence and terms to follow.
  • Digital Collections - U.S. National Library of Medicine
    • For more information, check the Copyright section of the Web Policies page. 
  • Public Health Image Library (PHIL) - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
    • Most of the images are in the United States Public Domain. They request that provide proper attribution by crediting the original institution and the contributor. If there is copyright protection you will have to contact the provider for permission. 
  • United States Department of Agriculture: Plants
    • More information can be found on the 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
  • Cell Image Library
    • Found in the About page, the Cell Image Library contains historical and modern images, videos and animations of cells.
    • 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.
    • 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 CC-licensed.
    • Images are available under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license, or under a less restrictive license. Password-protected images may not be used without written authorization from copyright holder.
  • Multimedia Gallery - National Science Foundation
    • From the website, "Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only."
    • Add to your citation -  "Courtesy: National Science Foundation"
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
    • NASA Images provides public access to NASA’s image, video, 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.
  • Soils of Canada
  • Science Image
    • More than 4,000 free science and nature images and videos curated by CSIRO, Australia’s major science research organization. Search by keyword or filter by categories including animals, insects, soil science, fire, water, and more.
    • Images are available under CC BY 3.0 license.

Except where otherwise noted, the resource section was adapted from The University of British Columbia Scholarly Communications and Copyright Office. The original is available at https://copyright.ubc.ca/image-sources/ and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/).

Getting Help

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

Kate Langrell
Copyright Coordinator
122.13 Murray Library