Skip to main content

Visual Resources: Copyright Information

Located in the Ford Campus Library, Visual Resources manages the content of digital image databases for teaching and research purposes using LUNA software.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.  If you’re looking for content that you can freely and legally use, there is a giant pool of CC-licensed material available on the Creative Commons search page.  You can search for images, videos, music, web pages, and media directly.

To help you easily identify licenses, Creative Commons uses icons to establish the type of restrictions, or lack thereof, for a work.  This is not an exhaustive list, but contains the most frequently used icons.  

attribution iconAttribution (BY) - give credit, or attribution, to the creator of the work

non-commerical icon

Non-Commercial (NC) - work cannot be used commercially unless additional consent is obtained

no derivatives icon

No Derivatives (ND) - use the work as is and do not edit or manipulate and then distribute

share alike icon

Share Alike (SA) - release the new, or derivative work under the same license type

public domain icon

Public Domain (CC0) - freely build upon, edit, share, and transform the work without restriction

no known copyright icon

No Known Copyright (PDM) - freely build upon, edit, share, and transform the work without restriction; reserved                      for older works whose copyright expired

The Four Precepts for the Fair Use of Images

Fair Use or Copyright Violation?

Judges use four factors to resolve fair use disputes.  It’s important to understand that these factors are only guidelines that courts are free to adapt to particular situations on a case‑by‑case basis.  In other words, a judge has a great deal of freedom when making a fair use determination, so the outcome in any given case can be hard to predict. -

The four factors judges consider are:

  • the purpose and character of your use
  • the nature of the copyrighted work
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market

What Does This Mean?


What is Fair Use for LUNA Images?

We provide images in LUNA for faculty and students at the College for Creative Studies.  You can use these images for any of your class presentations and research.  However, once you go to publish or use the images for anything outside of CCS, you may have crossed the copyright line.  If you represent CCS at a conference, you must ensure that LUNA images do not find their way onto the open web (SlideShare, etc.).  Using LUNA images on websites is prohibited unless they are in the public domain (see Public Domain chart at right).  Public Domain generally applies to work created before 1923 but it can get complicated.  For publications, you must seek permission from the copyright owner or else face lawsuits and large fines.  CCS Visual Resources does not hold copyrights.

Public Domain

"Works in the public domain are those whose intellectual property rights have expired, have been forfeited, or are inapplicable...public domain works can be freely used for derivative works without permission." -

This table is for image and text works. -                                           

VRA Statement on Fair Use of Images

The Fair Use of Images by the Visual Resources Association