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Images Research Guide. Ethical Use &Copyright
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Image Copyright and Ethical Use
Digital images are electronic resources that need to be used responsibly and with an
awareness of copyright and ethical use best practices. Most databases and web sites provide
information about how their images can be used. It is important to read this information
carefully, and comply with all usage guidelines. Usage guidelines can vary considerably, so be
alert to differences and details.
The UW Libraries outlines some general do's and don'ts for electronic resources. Please see Responsible Use of
Electronic Resources.
The UW Copyright Connection provides information about many aspects of copyright, including Compilations,
Music and Images and Images of Art and People.
Appropriate Use of UW Resources is published by UW Information Technology and provides additional copyright
information and guidelines for using electronic resources.
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Brief Definitions
You may encounter the below terms in your efforts to use images ethically and legally. Brief definitions and links to
more information are included here.
Intellectual property
Creative products and results of intellectual work, including designs, images, symbols, art, and architecture.
For more information:
World Intellectual Property Organization
Legal right of creators to control how their works are used by others. Images may be subject to multiple copyright
claims, inclucing claims by artists, photographers, designers, institutions, corporations, or others.
For more information:
UW Copyright Connection
Copyright Term
The period of time a work is covered by copyright. The copyright term is limited by copyright law.
For more information:
Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States (Cornell University)
Public Domain
When a work is not covered by copyright (because the copyright term has expired, the creator has released the
work, or the work was never copyrighted) it is in the public domain. The public then holds the rights to the work.
For more information:
UW Copyright Connection -Images of Art and People
Fair Use
A provision in copyright law that allows for the use of copyrighted works under some specific circumstances and for
particular purposes such as criticism, comment, scholarship, or research. Fair use is determined by the following
four factors (from Chapter 1, Section 107 of the Copyright Law):
the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for
nonprofit educational purposes
the nature of the copyrighted work
the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work
To help you determine if your use is a "fair use," consult one of the fair-use checklists in the box to the right.
Checklists can help you think about your ethical
responsibilities when using images. Use these
checklists to help determine if your image use is fair
and ethical.
Fair Use Checklists
Fair Use Analysis Checklist, Cornell University (pdf)
Fair Use Checklist, Columbia University
Ethical Use Checklist
Ethical Image Use Checklist, UW Libraries (pdf)
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Why Fair Use?
"Fair Use is an essential part of copyright law. Its
purpose is to allow you to use or quote copyrighted
material without permission or payment in order to
create new culture"
-from Fair Use is a Right! video by Kristian Perry for the Center
for Social Media
Fair Use Is A Right! from Kristian Perry on Vimeo.
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Ethical Use and Copyright Resources
National Press Photographers Association (NPPA)
Code of Ethics
Ethical guidelines for documentary photography and
visual journalism.
NPPA Ethics in the Age of Digital Photography
Essays on ethics in photography by John Long, NPPA
Ethics co-chair and past president. Includes "Visual
Lies," "Changes to Photographs," and "Digital
Campus Library » Research Guides » Images Research Guide
Images Research Guide
Guide to image databases and websites. Includes interdisciplinary, art, architecture, advertising, history, medicine, photography, science, and Pacific Northwest images. Tips on finding, evaluating, and
using digital images.
Last Updated: Apr 15, 2013 URL: http://libguides.uwb.edu/images Print Guide RSS Updates
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