Sourcing copyright free images when developing online teaching and learning content
The use of images in online learning and teaching resources can bring a text to life, reinforce concepts through a visual medium, or function as a means of breaking up large sections of dense text. This article offers some advice on how to source copyright free images from online repositories.
One of the challenges of adding images to online/digital content is being able to source images that are licensed in such a way that you do not breach copyright when using them.
There are many online sites where public domain or free to share images can be downloaded. Albeit these online repositories are not focussed on providing education specific content; they can contain images that may be pertinent to your teaching.
Some recommended online sources for copyright free images are:
Pixabay – https://pixabay.com/
Pexels – https://www.pexels.com/
Public Domian Pictures – http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/
Unsplash – https://unsplash.com/
Burning Well – http://www.burningwell.org/
Open Clip Art – Openclipart – Clipping Culture
NOTES: De Montfort University is not responsible for the content of these external sites.
Some of these free sites do also feature images that are for purchase.
Further advice on sourcing images.
Even though a digital content repository reports to contain copyright free content, it is still important to check that the licensing information supplied with the individual item allows you to use it in the way that you want. For example:
This is an image from a public domain image resource:
The licensing information provided with the image is as follows:
In this case it is very clear as to how you may re-use this image.
If you cannot find any information accompanying the digital content that clearly and unambiguously states what rights you have in copying and reusing the content, then it is best to err on the side of caution and not use the content in any online teaching and learning resource – this includes putting the image into your module on the VLE.
IMPORTANT NOTE on downloading and using photographs of people.
You MUST check that the person who took the original photograph of the person(s) secured a model release for the photo – meaning that the person(s) in the photograph agreed to allow the photograph to be made available for others to use. In the example above it is clear in the licensing information that the photographer did obtain a model release for the image. If a model release has not been obtained, or you are unsure if one has or hasn’t, then you should not use the image.
It is recommended that where possible you should use digital content that has been released under a Creative Commons License; as these licenses make it very clear as to how you may re-use the content.
By Adam Ognisty (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
This image is licensed under a Creative Commons license.
So always keep an eye out for the Creative Commons logos when searching for digital media created by others that is available from online sources.
For more information on Creative Commons licenses visit:
Information about educational copyright can be found at: https://libguides.library.dmu.ac.uk/copyrightGDPR
If you have any questions or concerns about the copyright status of any materials that you are wishing to use to support teaching and learning, you should contact the DMU copyright Officer, see: https://libguides.library.dmu.ac.uk/copyrightGDPR