Images and Copyright

By Carlos ZGZ [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
We’ve all done it, we’ve all used Google to find images and we’ve all slapped those pictures into presentations, lab reports and posters. What most of us don’t realize though is that most of the pictures we find on Google are protected by Copyright. We could have long discussions about things like “fair use” and citations but the bottom line is that there is only one way to make sure you are not violating any Copyright laws when using images from the internet: Use your own images or use Creative Commons images and cite them correctly.

That sounds like a lot of work!

It might sound like a lot of work but it doesn’t have to be. There are some great resources out there to help you find and correctly cite images you find online. Have a look at the different options, give them a try and see which one best suits your needs.

1. Photos For Class

Photos For Class returns only images that are not copyrighted and it uses a safe search filter which is great for use in school. Citations become part of the downloaded images.

2. Compfight

Compfight returns mostly images that are not copyrighted but also returns “premium” images. Images can be downloaded in different formats/sizes and they all come with the HTML code for correctly citing the image.

3. Wikimedia

All images you see on Wikipedia are licensed as Creative Commons. All these images are hosted on Wikimedia and Wikimedia also helps with citing the images correctly.

4. Google

Google doesn’t help you with citing your images but it does help you find Creative Commons images and it will return more results than the other options listed here, so as long as you’re ok with writing your own citations for images it’s a great option.

5. Your own images

Even when you use your own images you should be citing them so people know where they are coming from. Here is an acceptable format (MLA) for citing your own images:

Last Name, First Name. “Photograph Title/Description.” Year Created. Digital File Type

Here’s an example:

Langlands, Rob. “Leopard in Kruger.” 2015. jpeg file.

One comment

  1. […] One of the great things about Wikipedia is that all of the media you find on Wikipedia is in the Creative Commons. That’s not all, Wikipedia also provides a portal to help you search for all these things: Wikimedia. The video below shows how to use Wikimedia to find and cite images. If you want to find out more about finding and citing Creative Commons images check out this post. […]


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