Basic Rules for Images

Public Domain - As a basic rule, copyright of artistic works lasts for 70 years from the end of the year that the creator died. If the creator is anonymous, then it will be 70 years from the end of the year the work was published. For photographs made in the UK by a UK citizen since August 1989, copyright is for the life of the photographer + 70 years. For any photographs taken before 1989, it is a more complicated issue, and is dependent on earlier and later legislation, for more information see: Duration of Copyright (JISC Digital Media). The 70 year rule does not apply to computer generated works, which are copyrighted from the date that the work is created. 

Artistic Works include the following: paintings, sculpture, drawings, engravings, prints, models, diagrams, maps, PowerPoint presentations, autographs, photographs, collage, digital images, charts, graphs, decorative graphics, illustrations and computer generated work.

Exceptions to the Rule

Slides - The slide collection at Falmouth University (stored off-campus) is covered by DACS (Design & Artists Copyright Society), a UK, non-profit licensing agency which protects the rights of artists and creators in the UK and abroad. This licence allows us to make sldies from images in published material for presentations and lectures.

Library Image Databases - Images found in ARTstor, and Bridgeman Education are copyright cleared for educational use. This means that they can be viewed, downloaded into your documents and printed for inclusion into your essays. Images found in ARTstor and Bridgeman may be included into a closed VLE for teaching, but not published or downloaded into a public access website.

Online Image Resources - A number of our online image resources also provide similar freedom of use for educational purposes, these include: Cartoons ArchiveThe Glasgow of Art's Archives and Collections, Smithsonian InstitutionTate Collections OnlineVADS (Visual Arts Data Service) and Wellcome Images. For all other internet image collections, including those from museums, please read their disclaimers on copyright before downloading.

Creative Commons (CC) Licenses - These are created by the non-profit organisation 'Creative Commons' to increase the range of creative works available for the public to access and share. There are several licenses released allowing creators to decide which rights they waive for users.  Flickr - is perhaps the most well-known image site hosting over 200 million Creative Commons licensed images; many of which allow users to post, share and comment on other's content, as well as download. World Images - is another Creative Commons licensed website, hosting a collection of over 80,000 images from the California State University IMAGE project. Follow this Creative Commons link to access more (CC) image sites:

Fair Dealing (UK) - Exception in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 allowing the copying of a limited amount of copyright material for non-commercial use, including private study, or for criticism and review, without prior consent from the copyright owner. For images, this means one copy or a single printout of a scanned or downloaded image. Artistic works under 'Fair Dealing' can be copied for the purpose of an examination, for example essays and dissertations, but only if it is not later published. Also, this exception does not condone any alterations to the image. Fair Use (U.S) - this is the U.S equivalent; many image collections use the 'Fair Use' exception, including the Smithsonian.

Public Realm - Photography or filming of works of art or architecture in public places, including premises open to the public, is acceptable under UK copyright law. However, check before photographing or filming artistic works in museums or galleries first, as many do not allow this. 

Images in the Learning Space or other VLE platforms

If you use images in your teaching and you wish to make your lecture slides or teaching material available in the Learning Space or another VLE platform for Falmouth registered students, please follow these guidelines:

  • You must set your lecture slides in a context that makes it clear how they relate to the teaching of the course. All the images in the slides should illustrate points you are making in your teaching.
  • If you provide other images in the Learning Space, you must relate them clearly to a particular learning activity or make it clear how they illustrate points in your teaching.
  • You should use low resolution images.
  • You should always include an acknowledgement of the source of the image.

The guidelines above are based on the legal exception of fair dealing with a work for the sole purpose of illustration for instruction. Further details are available from the JISCLegal website (see Illustration for Instruction s.32).

Further help

For help with finding copyright cleared images, try this interactive tutorial from JISC Digital Media: Internet for Image Searching  

For more information about images and copyright visit: JISC Digital Media

For UK Copyright Law visit: Intellectual Property Office

Referencing & citation

Images along with textual material (eg: quotes) need to be cited and referenced correctly in your work. We use an adapted version of Harvard at UCF for undergraduate work and the MHRA for post-graduates. For information regarding referencing images in your work visit the ASK pages on the Learning Space.

For all enquiries relating to information in this page contact Catherine Worrall, Academic Liaison Librarian (Research), The Library, Falmouth Campus. tel: 01326 213832