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Copyright Basics

Displaying Images for Educational purposes

Displaying Images for Educational Purposes

  • Authors are urged to look for an image in the public domain or one that they can purchase or lease. The University of Delaware Library maintains a list of image databases for faculty, staff and students. If no legal copy is available, only digitize the image if a license for use is being negotiated. If a contract is pending, digitize the image and state that a contract is pending.
  • For classroom use, if the image is not readily and legally available online or for sale or access in a digital format
    1. Limit the number of slides displayed in an online class session to the number used in a typical face-to-face session.
    2. Faculty and instructors may use digitized images at peer conferences.
    3. Students may download, transmit and print out images for personal study and for use in the preparation of academic course assignments and other requirements for degrees.  Students may publicly display images in works prepared for course assignments and may keep works containing images in their portfolios.
    4. Periodically review digital availability. If a previously unavailable image becomes available online or for sale or license at a fair price, point to or acquire it.

Fair Use of Images

When fair use is the appropriate alternative, complete the Fair Use Checklist to help determine if the intent of the law allows the intended use. The following suggestions may help support a case for fair use of an image:

  • Use lower resolution or thumbnail versions where possible;
  • Place the image in a new context or use it for a new purpose; and
  • Use only the parts of the image needed for the purpose

Authors and teachers are encouraged to read and consider the criteria discussed in the following two documents:

  • Wagner, Gretchen and Kohl, Allan T. (2011). "Visual Resources Association: Statement on the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research and Study," VRA Bulletin: Vol. 38:1, Article 5.
  • Patricia Aufderheide, Katharine Coles, Peter Jaszi, and Jennifer Urban. (February 2014). Copyright, Permissions, and Fair Use among Visual Artists and the Academic and Museum Visual Arts Communities: An Issues Report.

Visual Resources Association Statement on Fair Use (June 2013)


This Statement on the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study describes six uses of copyrighted still images that the Visual Resources Association ( believes fall within the U.S. doctrine of fair use. The six uses are: 1) preservation (storing images for repeated use in a teaching context and transferring images to new formats); 2) use of images for teaching purposes; 3) use of images (both large, high-resolution images and thumbnails) on course websites and in other online study materials; 4) adaptations of images for teaching and classroom work by students; 5) sharing images among educational and cultural institutions to facilitate teaching and study; and 6) reproduction of images in theses and dissertations.

Link to the entire document: Statement on the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study.   For more information, please use the links in the Fair Use and Images box on the right side of this page.

Also, please consult the February 2015 Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts 




Tools for Finding Images

Fair Use and Images