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Art Graduate Studies

What is Copyright?

Applied Copyright

For the most part, image copyright is no different than the copyright of anything else and these copyright principles still appy.

  • If you want to use an image, you should cite it. 
  • If you want to incorporate an image into an original work of your own, you should transform it.
  • If you want to use an image that hasn't been transformed or altered and attribute a retail value, then you'll have to check with the original creator.

Like most uses of materials for the purpose of education, we are often able to apply Fair Use. Fair Use is an allowance for the use of copyrighted material, which is based on a set of criteria to be considered when determining whether your use of an image or work is in fact fair. Those 4 principles are:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of 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 upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

Whether the use of a work does indeed fall into the category of Fair Use is subjective. Instead of offering hard and fast rules, think of Fair Use as a set of guidelines that should be followed. For more specific details, read up on Fair Use through the U.S. Copyright Office.

Use of Images & Licenses

To apply your own Creative Commons License, which means accommodating for limited use of rights, you can go to Creative Commons.

Citing Images

Citing images is like citing anything and you should include:

  • Title
  • Creator
  • Date of creation
  • Institution (museum or image repository)
  • Source (database, book, website, etc.)
  • Access date

Sometimes you don't get all that information, or no one knows who the artist was. In these cases, you leave this information omitted.

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