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The University Archives and Photography Office

Publicly available image collections

This guide provides a short list of links to find images for creative works and introduces the concepts of copyright, public domain, and image attribution.

Not all images you find online can be used for any purpose. Reviewing information on this page will guide you in the right direction. It is helpful to start with websites where rights and licensing options are defined. Please review the licensing and terms of service for each site at the time of use.

Copyright, Licensing, Fair Use, and Public Domain: A Review

Image creators hold copyrights to their creative works. "The immediate effect of our copyright law is to secure a fair return for an ‘author’s’ creative labor. But the ultimate aim is, by this incentive, to stimulate artistic creativity for the general public good."1 Only rights holders of creative works can define or assign allowed uses. If rights holders allows specific uses, they are not giving away or transferring their copyrights. Commonly, image creators will specify uses in writing or with defined licenses. If you are interested in using an image, make sure to review allowed uses and licensing.

A Creative Commons license is one of several public copyright licensing models. They work alongside copyright and allow creators to modify copyright terms to best suit their needs.

Some works under copyright can be used if they are determined to be a Fair Use exception. Works whose copyright have expired and are not renewed are said to be in the public domain. Review the concepts of public domain and fair use:

1Twentieth Century Music v. Aiken, 422 US 151, 156 (1975).

Citing or Attributing Images

Using images in your academic work, as long as that work illuminates and adds to an understanding of those images, is considered Fair Use. You do not need to seek permission from the copyright holder*, though you must properly cite and attribute credit to images. Each image should include a caption, formatted according to the appropriate style guide rules required by your instructor. Get started with Ikeda Library's "Citations and EndNote Basic" LibGuide.

*If your academic work is published and made commercially available, you may need to obtain permission to include any copyrighted images.


  • Digital Image Rights Computator (DIRC)
    The Digital Image Rights Computator (DIRC) assists the user in determining the intellectual property rights of an image.
  • TinEye
    A reverse image search engine. Helps in locating the creator or publisher when this information about an image is unknown.

Requests for SUA Images

The University Photography Office services include requests for images from our archive for approved for university purposes. SUA Photography shall not be used for commercial works or academic works without permission. Please email with your requests or questions.