Still images

Definition of images

Images (artistic works) as defined in copyright legislation include:

  • building plans and blueprints
  • maps, charts and graphs
  • drawings, paintings and sculptures
  • photographs and illustrations
  • logos

What is allowed?

You may copy an image without seeking permission:

  • for your own non-commercial private study or research
  • for examination purposes, including assessed essays, dissertations or theses.

However, you may not use them for any other purpose unless they are out of copyright, have obtained explicit permission in writing or e-mail from the copyright owner or clearly state that they are freely available for teaching purposes or are licensed for use in teaching and learning materials. See the section below on images for teaching and learning purposes.

Images included in examination papers are copied under a statutory permission in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, and may not be further distributed outside the examination setting or to anyone other than the examinees and examiners. Images must therefore be removed from archived examination papers and may not be distributed to subsequent class groups in past papers.


When is permission required?

The copying of images is more highly restricted than most other types of copyright material to safeguard the rights of creators to profit from their works.

If images are not explicitly covered by a licence or a notice authorising copying, permission is required:

  • to give out copies to students in handouts
  • to copy images and use them in the VLE, online archives, the intranet or web pages
  • to copy images for use in PowerPoint presentations
  • to include in a published work

The Arts and Humanities Data Service, Design and Artists Copyright Society and TASI: Technical Advisory Service for Images websites provide some guidance regarding copyright issues and tracing the copyright owners of artistic works.


What images can be used for teaching and learning purposes?

Brunel staff and students have access to images from many print and internet resources and subscription databases which may be used for teaching and learning purposes, subject to individual terms and conditions of use. Details are given below as well as a list of known sources of images.

The Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) Higher Education Copyright Licence may cover the limited use of images for educational purposes. See the Scanning web page for further information on the terms of the licence and procedures for obtaining authorisation.

To avoid potential copyright infringement or breach of contractual agreements, all staff and students are required to check terms and conditions of relevant licences or copyright statement thoroughly prior to use in all cases, to ensure that all intended uses of copyright material are covered. Where you are unsure of permitted uses, please e-mail the Copyright Officer.

Using images from print sources

Images contained in books, journals and magazines covered by the University's Copyright Licensing Agency Higher Education Trial Photocopying and Scanning Licence may be reproduced in print handouts, or may be disembedded from the text for use in the VLE or PowerPoint presentations. Images should be used in the context in which they were published.

Scanning images from CLA licensed material for use in Blackboard Learn or in PowerPoint presentations is permitted provided:

  • the source is acknowledged
  • has been published in the UK
  • and the work has not been excluded under the CLA Licence. 

All images scanned for electronic use in Blackboard Learn or PowerPoint must be recorded and reported to  and must be accompanied by the text of the CLA Copyright Notice, which will be supplied.

You should check whether a work is covered by the CLA Licence prior to copying as there are exclusions, which vary by format and country of publication. To check, use the Title Search tool on the CLA website for the type of copying you plan to do. See the Scanning and Digital Readings web pages for further information.

Any CLA licensed material which is not reported or does not bear the CLA copyright notice will be in breach of the licence. If any infringing material is found by the CLA during a data collection exercise or copyright compliance audit, this could have legal repercussions and could also constitute a disciplinary offence under University regulations.

Using images from websites

Google Images is a powerful search engine which many people use to quickly source images for use in teaching and learning. However, this method of sourcing images to use for teaching and learning is not recommended as Google indexes material on the internet, regardless of the copyright status. Therefore, any images found may not necessarily be copyright free and it may be necessary to seek permission, which can be a lengthy process. Additionally, many websites use third party copyright material for which they do not have clearance and are therefore not legally able to authorise any reproduction.

When using images from the internet, the host website must be checked thoroughly for a copyright notice or statement of terms and conditions prior to use. Often an image may be accompanied by a caption alongside the image. Where image specific copyright information is not displayed, check the host site for a statement of acceptable uses. Common locations would be in a disclaimer, copyright notice, or terms of use statement which are often found on the home page in navigation bars or links across the top or bottom of the page.

The section on image collections below contains links to sites with collections of images which may be used for some educational purposes, subject to individual terms and conditions.

The Intellectual Property Office has published guidance which is useful for anyone who uses third party images, including bloggers and other social media users. Copyright notice: digital images, photographs and the internet, March 2014. If you need further advice or guidance in applying for clearance, please contact the Copyright Officer who will be happy to help.


Image collections for teaching and learning

Digital image collections on the internet

There are many image collections on the internet that allow free use for teaching purposes. Each has its own terms and conditions for use. Collections which may be useful to Brunel staff and students include:

Finding images for teaching and learning online

If you wish to develop your image searching skills, TASI (Technical Advisory Service for Images), has launched a free online tutorial aimed at staff and students in education.

The tutorial is designed to help you learn techniques for finding copyright cleared images that can be used for teaching and learning quickly and efficiently.

The tutorial is available at:

The Copyright Officer has prepared a guide for students wishing to use images which contains a section on where to find useful images online.

Image collections in subscription databases

The Library subscribes to many electronic databases, which contain collections of images. The subscription terms may include permission to use materials for non-commercial educational purposes in lecture presentations, handouts or the VLE. Please check terms and conditions prior to use.

Some databases which can be used for some, or all of the above, include:

  • Academic Search Premier: a US database covering text as well as images in several subject areas including anthropology, politics, sociology and psychology. It can be accessed via the Databases A-Z web page.

We will be adding to this list. Please e-mail if you are aware of any collections of image resources which may be useful.

Slide collections

The University does not have a blanket licence to copy images (such as photographs and diagrams) and then to store them as slides. If you would like to do this, please e-mail, and we will consider taking out a Design and Artists Copyright Society Licence or investigate alternatives such as the purchase of copyright cleared images.


The Ordnance Survey website offers considerable information regarding the copying of maps and the use of digital map data. They have a useful Get-a-map service which allows use of maps for teaching and on web sites.

Page last updated: Friday 28 March 2014