In its broadest sense, an image is a visual representation or likeness of a person or thing. Images can include paintings, photos, drawings, cartoons and illustrations, diagrams, graphs, computer graphics and plans.
An original image is considered an artistic work and is protected by copyright legislation.
It's commonly said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so when used appropriately, images can enhance your assignments, whether their function be decorative or explanatory. However, images must be used with caution as they are protected by copyright legislation.
It is important to consider copyright obligations when reusing an image. Don't assume that a freely accessible image is also freely available to use without permission. A blog post from Creative Commons Australia illustrates the importance of permission checking before reusing images found on the web:
Many images can be freely downloaded under certain terms and conditions, while websites such as Associated Press, iStock by Getty Images, and Shutterstock require payment for a license to reuse content.
One of the easiest ways to successfully navigate your copyright obligations is to select Open License, Creative Commons (CC) or public domain images.
An Open License is one that grants permission to access, reuse and redistribute work with few or no restrictions. Creative Commons is the most well-known open license system.
A Creative Commons license doesn't replace copyright. CC material is still protected by copyright, but the copyright owners have provided upfront permission for others to reuse their content in particular ways. You don't have to seek permission from the copyright holder as long as you abide by the conditions set out in the CC license.
Public domain images can refer to material in which copyright has expired and can be used without restriction; or where the copyright owner gives very broad permissions to people to use content freely.
The websites below specialise in sourcing open license content:
The following websites provide easily accessible advance search filters to quickly identify Creative Commons or public domain images
When reproducing images, you will need to ensure that you are referencing in accordance with the appropriate referencing style for your unit. Please refer to our referencing tables and figures guides for information:
If your work will be publically available, to abide by the terms of a Creative Commons license, you may also be required to provide an attribution statement.
To properly attribute content offered under a Creative Commons license:
You will find more information about creating a Creative Commons statement in the links below.