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Images, Music, & Copyright

A guide to finding legally reusable images and sounds.

Brooks Library Image Resources

The resources available in the Brooks Library include several collections of images and many of the books, government publications, journals, and other items in our collection include a variety of images.  Most of the images - and most of the text and other information - available on the Brooks Library shelves or in our databases are not licensed under a Creative Commons License and are under copyright.

The two clear exceptions are 1.) those image that you make yourself from books published before 1923, and 2.) images and text found in U.S. government publications (Title 17 USC, Section 105).  [Note: the Brooks Library has more than 32,000 items published before 1923 and lots of government publications.]  Scanners are available on every floor for making copies in accordance with the Fair Use provision of US Copyright Law (Title 17 USC, Section 107).

In addition to the images that can be found on our shelves images can be found in our databases.  Two lists of databases with appreciable image content are "Subject: "Art"" and "Subject: "Images Online and in Databases"".  The images in these databases are expected to be used for scholarly purposes, but no license for other uses is implied or assumed.  Please limit your reuse to scholarly activities covered by the Fair Use provision of US Copyright Law.

Some particularly useful databases to search for images:

  • Academic Search Complete - and most EBSCO databases - has a blue bar across the top of the search page.  The word 'More' is a dropdown, with one of the options being 'Images'.  Select 'Images'.  Two collections of images will be searched.  After you have entered your search terms you can select which sort of search to try in "Search Mode and Expanders" and then limit your search to specific sorts of images in "Limit your results".
  • Art Full Text is a comprehensive resource for art information, with nearly 200,000 art reproductions included with its articles.  The database covers fine, decorative, and commercial art, folk art, photography, film, and architecture.  Note: the images in this database are usually sized for publication in a printed journal.
  • ARTstor is a nonprofit digital library containing more than 1.6 million arts, architecture, humanities, and social sciences related images from hundreds of museums, artists, artists' estates, photographers, scholars, special collections, and photo archives.  Once you register you can export images for classroom presentations and a variety of other unpublished/noncommercial uses.  ArtStor also has an Images for Academic Publishing (IAP) program that makes available publication-quality images for use in scholarly publications free of charge.
  • CAMIO® — Catalog of Art Museum Images Online — is a growing collection of art from prominent museums. CAMIO highlights the creative output of humanity, from prehistoric to contemporary times, and covers the complete range of visually expressive forms.  CAMIO is licensed for scholarly use by students, faculty, and researchers at subscribing institutions.  If they are properly credited works of art may be used for educational and research purposes during the term of the subscription.  Images may not be published or otherwise distributed.
  • OAIster is a database of digital items held by nearly 1100 libraries, museums, and organizations. The file types include digitized images (e.g., jpg, gif); and movies (e.g., mp4, quicktime), and most images are more readily found if you select "Visual Materials" from the Document Type dropdown box.  Click the link labled 'Access' in the bibliographic record for the image to access the image.  Note: most of the images in this database are copyrighted and only usable in accordance with the Fair Use provisions of US Copyright Law.

Images may also be found in a number of other databases that the Brooks Library subscribes to.  If you include a complete citation you may usually reuse those images for scholarly non-commercial purposes.  Even if the image is not covered by copyright - and is labeled as not covered by copyright - you should always include a complete citation for the image in your bibliography.  A complete citation is essential for good scholarship.