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Finding and Using Images

A guide to searching for and reusing digital images for UMSL students and faculty.

Teaching and Scholarship

Many of the same guidelines that apply to student resuse of images, especially the concept of fair use, apply to faculty use cases as well.  For a brief overview of fair use, please see the student page.

Below, we elaborate on some additional circumstances which more often apply to faculty.  This page is intended as general guidance and not legal advice.

Teaching with Images - In Person and Online

In person

In most cases, you are free to reuse images from other sources in an in-person classroom setting due to the principle of fair useYour use is non-commercial, likely alters the purpose of the image (e.g., from entertainment to instruction), and is highly unlikely to impact the market value of the original.


Online teaching introduces complications due to the possible permanence of and easy access to online teaching materials.  For example, if you reuse a news organization's photograph in a slide deck, then publish that deck freely online, Internet users can now visit your materials to view and potentially copy the image, rather than going through a paywall or other restrictions to access the original.

In many cases, the responsible and educational reuse of images will still be considered fair use, even online.  However, you may wish to take extra precautions, such as uploading teaching materials to your LMS / CMS (e.g., Canvas, Moodle, etc.), where access will be limited to students and other instructors in your course.


Images from Library Databases

Even if your intended purpose counts as fair use, you may still be prohibited from using database images under certain circumstances due to the library's license agreement with the database provider, in addition to copyright law. 

For example: You may be prohibited from displaying images on a public website, even though you are free to download them, show them in class, and link them on your password-protected online course page.

License agreements may also prevent you from reusing database images in your own published scholarship (see below).


Republishing Images for Scholarship

If you would like to republish database images in your own scholarship, you may need to contact the database provider to request permission to do so.  This requirement is a result of the library's license agreement with the vendor.  It is safe to assume that you will need to request permission from the provider (aka, the copyright owner) unless the guidelines on the database website explicitly indicate otherwise.



Please feel free to contact the library at any time.  We are happy to provide guidance on navigating the complicated world of copyright, though again, we are not lawyers and cannot provide legal advice.  You are also invited to visit our separate guide on Copyright for UMSL Faculty.