Attribution, copyright and fair use of images

I wanted to put together a quick reminder for anyone who uses images in their university published documents. “Published documents” meaning: print, web, email, basically anything that leaves your computer.

This post should not be taken as a complete rule set for every situation or image, just a general guideline. If you have specific image questions you should contact the person who produced or is distributing the image.

Basic Rules

  1. If you use an image in anything that is eventually going to make it someplace public, implemented on the web or used in any type of distribution you must first gets rights to that image from the appropriate source.
  2. If the images are from Rick or MJ (university photographers), or a stock photo site they will be all right. If they are from any other site you must follow the existing rights attached to that image.
  3. If the images are marked as creative commons, depending on the level of the license (, you must follow the rules attached to that image.
  4. If there is nothing on the page that explains the license of the photo you have to assume it is copyrighted by the person who published it and you must get approval to use the image.
  5. If you are using a logo, most larger brands have media guides with high resolution versions available. Contacting the company is your best bet to get the highest quality. Most often using logos for “sponsorship” areas on a publication doesn’t require special permissions as long as the company knows it will be connected with the event or item.

Every situation is different so these rules might not apply to everything. The reason I bring them up is just a reminder that not all images found online are free to use. Treat digital images the same as you would software and any other artwork for that matter.