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Copyright Educational Resources

This Guide provides the UBC community with comprehensive educational resources on a variety of copyright considerations

Image Sources

Image Use: General

Using images in your work differs from using textual resources. Very rarely do you want to use a portion of the image, the way you do when using quotations from text. More commonly you want to use the whole image, which is considered copying the whole work. This usage requires permission from the copyright holder; however, there are a few exceptions in the Canadian Copyright Act which allow the use of materials without first obtaining permission.


Fair Dealing

The Fair Dealing exception in the Copyright Act allows copying for the purposes of research, private study, education, satire, parody, criticism, review, or news reporting. The user must give the source of the work and, if provided in the source, the author, performer, maker or broadcaster. Copies made under Fair Dealing generally cannot be transmitted or distributed to another person, unless unless you are a UBC instructor distributing materials to your students in accordance with the Fair Dealing Requirements for UBC Faculty and Staff.


Educational Uses

The Educational Exceptions in the Copyright Act allow for:

  1. Temporary display of copyrighted images in the classroom for instructional purposes as long as the source and creator (or copyright holder) is credited. However, this exception is only available for manual reproduction of images, and for works that are not commercially available on the Canadian market within a reasonable time and for a reasonable price, in a medium appropriate for education or training purposes.
  2. Use of images for assessment purposes, such as an assignment, test, or exam, as long as there isn't an acceptable commercial alternative in an appropriate format for testing.
  3. Use of images from public websites for classroom presentations, or for posting into a UBC secure learning management system (for educational or training purposes), as long as you satisfy the following three criteria:
    • You do not break or circumvent a digital lock to access or obtain a copy of the work (see FAQ 3.3);
    • There is no clear and visible notice on the website or on the work itself that prohibits the use or reproduction of the work (more than just a copyright symbol);
    • The website is not questionable, infringing or clearly using the works without the copyright owner’s consent; and
    • You identify the source of the work and, if available and applicable, the author, performer, maker or broadcaster of the work.

Please note that these exceptions may not apply to images taken from UBC Library’s licensed electronic resources, including e-journals and e-books. To view the permitted uses for images and other content from licensed e-resources, please visit the Library’s Licence Information page.

It is also important to remember that the Fair Dealing Requirements and UBC’s digital licences generally do not permit you to upload to a website, or create links on a website, that is not part of UBC’s secure network, and that is open to the world at large.

Finally, when using images, it is always good practice to cite the image owner/creator and the image source both for copyright and academic integrity reasons. When looking for images online, always assume images are copyrighted unless there is evidence to the contrary.

Open Access Images

Need images for your presentations, online learning modules, or teaching and training materials? These image sources can help you find images that make it easy to satisfy copyright requirements.

For more information on attribution, see our Image Citation Guide.

Public Domain and Creative Commons Resources

The following resources offer collections of images that fall into one of the following copyright categories:

  • Public Domain (PD): works for which copyright has expired, or been waived by the copyright holder.
  • Creative Commons (CC): works that have been permissively licensed and made available for reuse.

These items are still under copyright and reuse may have certain conditions. For instance, you must always provide attribution when reusing a CC-licensed image; for more information on attributing images, see our guide on how to cite images. To be safe, remember to always double-check the licensing conditions of individual items. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Open Access Image Sources

Name Description License Information
Creative Commons Search Creative Commons Search is a meta-search tool that searches across a numbner of platforms to find CC-licensed images. Platforms included Google Images, Europeana, Flickr, and Wikimedia Commons. All versions of CC licences are represented
Flickr Creative Commons Search The Flickr Creative Commons Search allows you to search all of image sources for items that are either CC-licensed or public domain. All versions of CC licences are represented
The Noun Project The Noun Project contains a catalogue of symbols that are created and uploaded by graphic designers under a CC-license. Most items are CC-BY 3.0 United States, although creators have the ability to choose from a variety of CC Licences.
Wikimedia Commons Wikimedia Commons contains over 20 million freely usable image, sound, and video files. All versions of CC licences are represented
Name Description License Information
The Flickr Commons The Flickr Commons is a partnership with libraries, museums, archives, and galleries to share public domain historical photography collections from around the world. Terms of Use
Wellcome Images Wellcome Images contains historical images of thousands of years of human culture. Unless otherwise noted, CC-BY 4.0
Europeana Europeana is an extensive collection of historical digital resources from museums, galleries, and archives throughout Europe. It contains thematic collections on art, fashion, music, photography and World War I Check individual images for terms of use. The advanced search tool allows users to filter by images that can be freely and openly used or by specific license.
Getty Open Content Program The Getty Open Content Program makes available high-resolution images of their museum collection, including paintings, manuscripts, photographs, sculpture, etc. Refer to site's Terms of Use
Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection Online The Met provides access to over 450,000 high-resolution digital works in its collection. Refer to the site's Terms of Use
Open Glam Open Collections OpenGLAM (Open Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) curates an extensive list of Open Collections from several cultural institutions. Check individual images for terms of use.
The Smithsonian Institute Collections Search The Smithsonian Collections Search Center is an online catalog containing most of Smithsonian major collections from its museums, archives, libraries, and research units. Refer to site's Terms of Use
UBC Open Collections UBC Library's Open Collections include digital photos, books, newspapers, maps, videos, theses and more. These publicly-accessible collections are constantly growing and reflect the research interests of the UBC community and beyond. Refer to individual items for specific information
Calisphere Calisphere provides free access to over 925, 000 unique and historically important artifacts for research, teaching, and curious exploration. Many public domain items, but some images have copyright restrictions. Refer to individual images for specific information
NYPL Digital Collections The New York Public Library Digital Collections contains 729,730 items and counting. Refer to site's Terms of Use
Name Description License Information
BioMed Central BMC is an open access publisher of over 300 peer-reviewed journals, sharing discoveries from research communities in science, technology, engineering and medicine. Tables and figures published in articles on BioMed Central are available for use under the same CC-BY 2.0 or (starting Feb. 3, 2014) CC-BY 4.0 license as the journal articles. Advance permission is not required, but be sure to include a full citation.
PLOS One PLOS One is a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science. Figures and graphs in articles are also CC-licensed and available for reuse.
Morphbank: Biological Imaging Images not password-protected are CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license, or under a less restrictive license. Password-protected images may not be used without written authorization from copyright holder. Morphbank is a database of images that scientists use for international collaboration, research and education. Images deposited document a wide variety of scientific research
Science Image Science Image is an image library specialising in science and nature images. It is presented by CSIRO, Australia's major science research organisation. All images are under a CC-BY- 3.0 license.
US National Library of Medicine Images from the History of Medicine (IHM) provides online access to images from the historical collections of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. IHM includes image files of a wide variety of visual media including fine art, photographs, engravings, and posters that illustrate the social and historical aspects of medicine dating from the 15th to 21st century. Mostly public domain, but some images have copyright restrictions. Refer to individual images for specific information
Public Health Image Library A database of images, illustrations, and videos created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on topics related to public health such as , natural disasters, bioterrorism, healthy behaviours etc. Refer to the site's "About" page for reuse information
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UBC Licensed Image Sources

UBC Licensed Resources

Note that images taken from UBC library resources are generally licensed for educational use only. As a result, these resources are useful for course development (posting to a learning management system or creating handouts, for instance) in most cases, but will be of less use to anyway developing a public UBC website or blog (for this use-case, see the resources under Public Domain / Creative Commons).

General Sources (all subjects)

Source LMS? Public site? What is it? Special Considerations
AP Images Yes Varies.
Ask us.
- A database of world events and press images spanning over 185 years. Includes photographs, audio sound bites, graphics and text. - For license terms of use and permitted uses see the Library’s licensing info page for AP Images.
Academic Search Complete Yes No - A database of scholarly materials containing images. Filter by photographs from the search screen to return results that contain images. - For license terms of use and permitted uses see the Library’s licensing info page for Academic Search Complete.


Source LMS? Public site? What is it? Special Considerations
ARTstor Yes No - A digital library of over 1 million images in the areas of art, architecture, the humanities, and social sciences. - For license terms of use and permitted uses see the Library's licensing info page for ARTstor.
Grove Art Online Yes No - An online scholarly art encyclopedia. Contains over 45,000 articles and images on every aspect of the visual arts. - For license terms of use and permitted uses see the Library's licensing info page for Oxford University Press Databases.
Early Encounters North America Yes No (may seek permission) - Documents the relationships among peoples in North America from 1534 to 1850. - For license terms of use and permitted uses see the Library's licensing info page for Early Encounters North America.
Native American Archives Yes No - Provides more than 1.8 million pages of original historical documents pertaining to Native American history and life from the 18th through the 20th century. - For license terms of use and permitted uses see the Library's licensing info page for EBSCO Publishing Direct Resources.
Luna Commons Varies Varies - LUNA Commons is a digital library of over 200,000 images licensed for educational use at UBC covering the areas of art, architecture, and material culture. - This is a freely accessible resource protected under copyright. Please check the resource website for terms and conditions regarding use restrictions. If you require assistance, please contact


Source LMS? Public site? What is it? Special Considerations
Medical Images & Multimedia Resources Varies Varies - A guide with links to free and licensed resources that contain medical images and multimedia. - See licensing information for individual resources to find terms of reuse.
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