Digital images: Copyright

This guide provides links to image databases and resources to help you find and effectively use digital images in your scholarly work.

Copyright at Monash

Using images in teaching

Creative Commons

Using images in research

You can use images in your teaching under copyright law as long as

1. You haven’t agreed to any terms and conditions preventing this use e.g. you haven’t clicked on an ‘I agree’ button that you will only use the image for personal use and

2. You follow the terms of the Part VB CAL License meaning a. Access is restricted to students and staff of Monash (through authcate) and b. the Part VB CAL warning notice appears before the image e.g. first slide of PowerPoint or

3. Teaching is already permitted by the explicit license terms e.g. ‘free for education’ or

4. You have written permission to use the image for teaching e.g. an email from the copyright owner

NOTE: Some images are online without permission of the copyright owner. If there are no citation details (especially name of photographer) this may show that the image is unauthorised.

Any licence terms attached would not necessarily apply.

Permission has to come from the legitimate copyright owner.

All images should be properly attributed. See Moral Rights.

See Using images in course materials or consult the Copyright Adviser for further advice or information.

Creative commons is a type of licensing that often allows use in research or teaching.

Searching Flickr or Google images will bring up many examples of images made available under creative commons licenses.

But not all creative commons licenses are the same.  There are 6 main licenses (with variations such as Australian, US and UK versions) with quite different terms and conditions. These terms must be followed, just like any other licensed material that you use.

All creative commons licenses require attribution of the creator (artist or photographer) and a link to the license terms themselves See 'How to attribute a Creative Commons photo'.

Non-commercial use may restrict use of the image on social media where personal postings may be moneterised (by selling advertising or information)

No derivatives means you are not permitted to alter the image e.g. may restrict ability to crop or change the colour tone

Share alike means you can only use or made the new work available under the same conditions as the creative commons material you want to use e.g. if you copy a short film that has a creative commons license non-commercial share-alike, that means your dissemination of anything including that film must also be non-commercial and licensed under creative commons as share-alike.

NOTE: Anyone can take an image and put a creative commons license on it. Consider whether it is likely that the webmaster or supposed copyright owner actually can make the image available e.g. ask whether an ordinary user would have the rights to popular film or TV images or cartoons

Other useful licensed databases for education resources are at Online image resources

Consult the Copyright Adviser for further advice




You can use images in your research under copyright law as long as

1. You haven’t agreed to terms of use that prevent use in research e.g. non-commercial use only and the research is actually funded by a commercial partner and

2. The use falls under a 'Fair Dealing' purpose e.g. research and study, criticism and review and

3. The use is fair e.g. is there harm to the owner in your use? Could you purchase the item instead of copying it?  Or

4. Your use falls within the explicit license terms of the image or

5. You get permission to use the image from the copyright owner.

You can't usually rely on fair dealing for making multiple copies, or making images available to the general public (publishing). These activities would require permission from the copyright owners (usually the photographer, the artist, the publisher or an Image library such as Getty Images).

Consult the Copyright Adviser for further advice and refer to the general information on Fair Dealing and on Using images in your assignments, coursework or research.