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Copyright & Fair Use

Images, Videos, and Media

Copyright and Fair Use principles also apply to different types of media including images and videos.  You might also find that creative works including images and videos may have Creative Commons licenses where the creators specifically say which types of sharing they are allowing for the different works they have produced.

What is Creative Commons Licensing?

The Creative Commons organization was founded in 2001 as a means of permitting creators to license their work for public use under conditions they specify. Although not an alternative to copyright and not an indication that a work is part of the public domain, Creative Commons licenses permit the holders of copyright to define more clearly, than perhaps modern copyright law interpretation allows, how their works may be used and give users of copyrighted works greater creative freedom when they know, without question, how copyrighted works can be incorporated into new creations.

Learn more about different types of Creative Commons license here: 

creative commons explainedFrom Technology Enhanced Learning Blog

[reused from ACRL Scholarly Communication Toolkit:

Sources of Copyright-Free and Creative Commons-Licensed Images

Here are several excellent sources for images in the public domain and creative commons-licensed content:

Creative Commons Search - Allows you to search for CC-licensed material by media type

College Art Association Image Sources - Links to free, restricted and unrestricted, image banks.

Flickr Advanced Search - Choose “Only search within Creative Commons-Licensed Content.”

Google Advanced Image Search - Use the “Usage Rights” field to limit by license type.

Library of Congress: American Memory - A free “digital record of American history and creativity.”

Library of Congress: Prints & Photographs Online Catalog - Photographs, prints, drawings, posters, and architectural drawings, and more.

NGA Images - Public domain artworks from the collections of the National Gallery of Art.

Noun Project - Free clip art images requiring creator credit.

NYPL Digital Gallery - Illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs, and more, from the New York Public Library.

US Government Photos & Images  Public domain images by topic.

Notable collections: NLM History of MedicineUS Fish & Wildlife Service National Digital LibraryNational Park Service Digital Image Archives, and Smithsonian Images.

Wellcome Images - All images are made available under Creative Commons licenses.

Wikimedia Commons - Browse or search for freely reusable images.

Wikipedia Public Domain Images - List of public domain image sources on the web.


This list was recreated based on sources from the NYU Libraries Copyright guide by April Hathcock which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.


Fair Use and Media

Statement on the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study (From the Visual Resources Association) 

This Statement on the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study describes six uses of copyrighted still images that the Visual Resources Association believes fall within the U.S. doctrine of fair use. The six uses are: 1) preservation (storing images for repeated use in a teaching context and transferring images to new formats); 2) use of images for teaching purposes; 3) use of images (both large, high-resolution images and thumbnails) on course websites and in other online study materials; 4) adaptations of images for teaching and classroom work by students; 5) sharing images among educational and cultural institutions to facilitate teaching and study; and 6) reproduction of images in theses and dissertations.

Fair Use and Video

Fair Use and Video: Community Practices in the Fair Use of Video in Libraries - ALA Video Roundtable

This project began as an attempt by the American Library Association’s (ALA) Video Roundtable to establish a recommended body of practice in the fair use of video for educational purposes. A team of six librarians, with advice and guidance from ALA’s Office of Information Technology Policy, coordinated the process of gathering input from the media librarian community and created the document, below. The team conducted in-person interviews at national conferences and hosted a series of focus groups at locations across the country: Boston, Seattle, Evanston, Washington, D.C. and Richmond. About eighty library staff members with varying responsibilities for buying, processing, and/or supporting the educational use of video were included in our surveys. The document was reviewed by a group of legal scholars and lawyers expert in fair use.

YouTube and Videos

YouTube Creative Commons License information is available online here. Review this page to learn more about when it is acceptable to reuse videos on YouTube. 

Example Classroom Scenarios of using Video and Fair Use

Fair Use and Copyright for Online Education: Examples: Video Created by the University of Rhode Island University Libraries

This website provides several scenarios of when you might want to use a video in different classroom settings and discusses the copyright and fair use implications for each.




The intent of this guide is to provide employees of Cincinnati Children's with information pertaining to copyright law and fair use.  In no way does this guide constitute, or take the place of, legal counsel.  This guide was compiled for educational purposes only.  Any content presented on other's sites are for user's convenience only and Pratt Library and/or Cincinnati Children's does not take responsibility for anything presented on these third party sites.