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Using Images

Public Domain & Open Access - some considerations

Websites of  "public domain" and "open access" image collections may in fact contain a mix of "free to use" images and  images under copyright or requiring permission to use. As a precaution, check the usage information provided for each image.

Ownership determines usage permissions.

  • Public Domain - owner/creator gives up all rights to the public but would like to be cited.
  • Open Access - owner/creator keeps ownership but grants rights in advance, i.e., Creative Commons licenses, and requires attribution.
  • (Copyright - owner/creator keeps rights and requires permission to use but fair use may permit certain uses; credit must be given.)

Some Helpful Sites

Citing Images

"Here are a few guidelines:

Give attribution to image creators in citations and credit statements to acknowledge authorship.

Indicate when using a personal photograph.

Include source information.

Citations to images included in image databases should include the following (or as much of it as can be easily determined from the source):

  • Title of the work, as given.
  • Location of the work (museum, library or owning institution, if known.
  • Date.
  • Database collection, if known.
  • Rights information, if known."

Source:  Columbia College Chicago Library libguide.

For more information on citing images, see

Image Citation & Attribution

Librarian