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Images and Copyright: Specific scenarios

Class Project

If you are using a copyrighted image in a paper or presentation for class, this would fall squarely within fair use. Use only as much as you need to accomplish your purpose. You should provide citations for any images you use. 

Art

If you are incorporating someone else's copyrighted art into your own to create a new work, it can be considered fair use with some caveats. If your piece of art is not transformative in that it does not generate new artistic meaning, it may be a violation of copyright. Simply changing the genre of the art does not constitute a transformation. Here are resources to help you make your decision:

Blog

Posting images online can be a tricky copyright situation. Whether you can use an image or not really depends on how you are using it. Follow the four steps to make your copyright decisions. If you use a copyrighted image without permission just to make your blog more attractive, you are violating copyright law even if you give credit. 

Here are some considerations for using copyrighted images online:

  • Look for licenses that allow you to use the image online.

  • Use your own photos.

  • Ask for permission.

  • Transform the original purpose of the image by adding commentary or criticism and use only as much as necessary. This could include using a thumbnail or a lower resolution images.

  • Purchase photos from a vendor.

Fashion

Proceed with caution when using fashion photography. If the image will only appear in print for a class assignment or in a presentation, you can use copyrighted images as a fair use. Use only as much as needed to accomplish your purpose.

If you are going to use the images online, follow the four steps to determine if you can use the image. If you use a copyrighted image without permission just to make your website or social media page more attractive, you are violating copyright law, even if you give credit. 

Here are some possible solutions for using fashion images online:

  • Transform the original purpose of the image by adding commentary or criticism and use only as much as necessary. This could include using a thumbnail or a lower resolution images.
  • Ask for permission.
  • Look for licenses that allow you to use the image online.
  • Use your own photos.
  • Ask for press photos for commercial products from the vendor.
  • Purchase individual photos from a vendor that specifically caters to fashion bloggers.

Graphic Design

When you are incorporating copyrighted images into a graphic design, there are several considerations. If your work is produced for a class project or presentation, this falls within fair use. If you are posting it online, you must follow the four steps and keep these considerations in mind:

  • Stock graphics and stock photography usually have specific licensing for use. You must follow the terms of the license for these kinds of images.
  • If you are using copyrighted material as inspiration, your design must be transformative and original.
  • Typefaces cannot be copyrighted given their utilitarian nature. However, the software that produces the digital font is copyrighted. Make sure the software is licensed for your intended use for commercial projects. Check the licensing of any font you download.