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Copyright: Using Images

Basic copyright information for faculty, staff, and students of Texas State University.

Other Resources

Stock Photos

Stock photos are often generic images, and can be licensed for less money than those of larger image banks. Nearly all images on stock photograph sites are available for one-time payments with no royalties, meaning that once you acquire the rights to the image you don’t have to worry about payments for each and every reproduction.

Tin Eye - Reverse Image Search

TinEye is a reverse image search engine. You can submit an image to TinEye to find out where it came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, or to find higher resolution versions.

Images and Copyright

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Photographs are more often the subject of copyright infringement due to the ease of republishing photos on the Internet.

Because photos are so often published without attribution, it can be difficult to locate the actual owner of an image’s copyright. Difficulty in locating the owner does not, however, excuse copyright infringement.

There are a number of stock photo organizations which license photos. These organizations have numerous licensing plans, ranging from one-time fees for unlimited use to royalty-based systems.

Use images responsibly. Most databases and websites provide information about copyrights and how their images can be used. Read this information carefully and comply with usage guidelines.  Usage guidelines can vary considerably, so read the fine print~

See this bibliography of fair use resources for images.

Information about how images from can be used can be found via our list of image databases.

Click on the  About This Resource information icon next to the database title for detailed information about what is in the database and how that information can be used.

How to Properly Cite Images

There are a number of different citation styles including but not limited to APA, MLA, AP, Chicago, etc. This citation guide from Dartmouth College provides some guidance on how to cite images using these different styles. It is important to stay consistent with style usage through out any particular document.

If you are using images pursuant to a Creative Commons license follow this link to the Creative Commons page explaining how to properly cite to such materials.

Open Attribute is a useful tool that makes citing properly to a Creative Commons source simple.


Any items obtained from the web or scanned from a print source should be attributed to the owner of the copyrighted work. This includes photographs, paintings, or other works of art, tables, graphs, and other illustrations from primary or secondary source materials. Images from royalty free clip art, such as the clip art available in Microsoft Word or Power Point, do not need to be cited.

As a general rule, the following elements are needed in an image citation:

  • artist's name, if known
  • title of image, if known (if not use a description)
  • institution where held, if known
  • title of article or book if applicable
  • author of article or book if applicable
  • title and date of journal if applicable
  • database name if applicable
  • date of access if online
  • date of publication if originally from print material
  • URL if applicable



Legal Disclaimer

This guide is designed to share information on copyright and related topics. This guide does not supply legal advice nor is it intended to replace the advice of legal counsel.