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Finding and Using Images

Hopkins Resources


Images that fall under a Creative Commons license (see below to learn more about Creative Commons) are typically freely available to use and share, and sometimes repurpose and remix.

If you are uncertain whether you can legally use an image and/or video, ask permission from the copyright holder. Remember that there is a difference between using an image for an educational presentation and using an image for publication. For the latter, you will always need to request permission. Read our section below on fair use to find out more about using images in educational presentations. 

JHU Copyright

Johns Hopkins has an official Copyright Compliance Policy to clarify where the university stands on copyright and how to comply with copyright law.

Government Resources & Fair Use

Government Resources on Copyright

Fair Use

The use of copyrighted images for educational purposes is often allowed under Fair Use Exemptions to Copyright (U.S. Code, Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 107). Use of a copyrighted work for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research are not considered infringements if the use weighs favorably when considering these four factors:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; 
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work; 
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; 
  4. the effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Generally speaking, using copyrighted images for teaching and education is considered fair use. However, if that includes posting images to a website, that could be considered a publication and therefore copyright infringement. 

Fair Use is not always clear and must be decided on a case-by-case basis using the four factors listed above.

See the Visual Resources Association's statement on Fair Use.


Creative Commons Resources


Creative Commons Licenses

"The Creative Commons copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional 'all rights reserved' setting that copyright law creates."  - from Creative Commons Licenses.

With a Creative Commons license, the owner retains copyright but allows others to copy and distribute the work, provided the user gives credit, and only under certain conditions. There are different types of Creative Commons licensing.

This video, from Creative Commons' YouTube channel, pays tribute to those using CC licenses to work together and share knowledge: