Skip to Main Content
chat loading...
lirbary homepage

Faculty Help: Copyright: Finding Images with Clear Copyright Information

Creative Commons 101

  • A nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity.
  • Easy-to-use copyright licenses provide a simple way to give the public permission to use creative works.
  • Easily changes copyright terms from the default of “all rights reserved” to “some rights reserved.”
  • Not an alternative to copyright.  They work alongside copyright.
  • No warranties are given.  The license may not give you all of the permissions necessary (publicity, privacy, moral rights*, etc.) 


-Share, adapt, as long as the image is correctly attributed.



-Same as CC BY except that if you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your creation under the same license.



-Requires attribution.

-Material cannot be modified or added to a new creation.


-Requires attribution.

-Cannot be used for commercial purposes (a commercial use is one primarily intended for commercial advantage or monetary compensation.  Whether a use is commercial will depend on the specifics of the situation and the intentions of the user).


-Requires attribution.

-Cannot be used for commercial purposes.



-Requires attribution.

-Material cannot be modified or added to a new creation.

-Cannot be used for commercial purposes.


When using images from Flickr, Wiki, etc.

Please be sure to check the copyright status of each image as not all images on Wiki, Wiki Commons, Flickr, and other user-generated content site are in public domain or free of copyright.

Also keep in mind that sometimes the uploader of an image is not necessarily the creator of the image or the rights holder of the image.  If something seems "off," it's always a good idea to check the uploader's account or do a bit of investigative work (e.g. check to see if there's an attribution to a third party) to determine the identity of the rights holder.

Do you think the the uploader of the image below is also the rights holder?


There are images that the uploaders have released under public domain, but sometimes there are copyrighted content within that public domain image that may require permission clearance, as shown in an example below. 

The image itself is under public domain, but since there's also an image of Alexander Calder's "Mobile" in the public domain image, you may need to clear permission with the rights holder(s) of the art when necessary.

Google Advanced Image Search

You can also search images on Google using Google Advanced Image Search and sort by different usage rights.  Again, check to see if there are any restrictions. 

Click here for more on using Google Image Search to find images you use and share. 

National Park Service Images Database

Images from the U.S. Federal Government

Due to copyright rules, U.S. government materials are not copyrighted.  There can be some exceptions when the work is done for the U.S. by independent contractors, but the majority of images on government web pages will be useable in a variety of situations without needing to request permission.    Just watch to see if the images has its own crediting statement - that might mean it was done by independent contractor.  State and local governments may have different rules, so be cautious on these other types of web pages.

Do a Google Image search  --  add the following after your search terms:


For example:


This page's content was developed at the University of California San Diego.  Used with permission.

chat loading...