Considering copyright issues for your images


From photo archive at

Images can make a boring presentation come to life, but before highlighting your next presentation with a beautiful image you find online, there are a few things to consider regarding potential copyright issues. This is especially true when you plan to share the presentation via social media, post it publicly on the Web, widely distribute it in hard copy format, or use it for commercial purposes.

This article is not a comprehensive tutorial on all aspects of copyright regulations for digital images. Instead, we’ll mention one important exception that may allow you to freely use copyrighted images in your academic work, provide links to more than a dozen online sources where you can find beautiful non-copyrighted images, and direct you to sites with more detailed guidelines on copyright issues in online learning.

The Classroom Exception permits you to use copyrighted images without permission in the classroom or a similar space devoted to instruction such as a lab, or library room – as long as the work is related to your instruction. In the case of online learning, work that’s shared within a password protected environment is considered similar to usage in a classroom.

More than a dozen sites with non-copyrighted images can be found on this recent blog post from Kasper Spiro:

HELP for your copyright questions is available from NC State University’s D.H. Hill Library. Detailed information on copyright regulations is available from NC State’s   Copyright and Digital Scholarship Center, For information about any copyright and fair use questions, contact William Cross, Director, Copyright and Digital Scholarship Center at


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