Copyright Law


Image Copyright and what You Need to Know: Best Practices for image use

Copyright is a complicated topic and every rule and law is still standing. (Our) our emergency has not altered rules and laws on usage. In a time many of us are trying to find images to use in our publications, it is important to remember that virtually everything on the web is owned by someone. Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. are search engines. These sites allow you to search for anything. That does not mean the images that appear are ok to use.

Teachers have a great deal of leeway when using materials in the classroom for specific educational use. It is important to remember that publishing a yearbook is not the same as teaching a class.

Most materials downloaded from the internet are not usable, and in many cases too low res to (print correctly) use anyway.

The number one rule everyone needs to remember is, if you do not own it or you did not get permission to use it; do not use it.

Downloading an image and indicating courtesy of Google is not ok, (unless Google actually owned the image and gave permission.) Downloading an image and indicating courtesy of the actual owner is also not permitted, unless the actual owner gives permission. If you see the comment (images may be subject Copyright) it is, most likely, excluded from fair use rules.

Use of one school’s images infringes on the individual owner of the image’s copyright. It is important to remember that students have rights and copyright law applies to them as well. Using an image from one school for another is not ok, without written approval from the photographer and the school if they have a policy of image ownership.

Rules around image use may change from place to place but the it’s important to understand what the terms mean.

1. Fair Use

For us and our advisers this really only applies to commentary, by that I mean real articles not a one line caption. Fair use is an exclusion to copyright law. This exception allows for the use or partial use of copyright material. Material can be quoted verbatim for purposes such as teaching, criticism, news commentary, and research, without the need for permission. For example, if you’re writing a book review, you can use an official image of the book.

2. Public Domain

Public domain images and art are available to the public as a whole, They are not subject to copyright or other legal restrictions. public domain items can be used freely. When the intellectual property rights have expired or have been forfeited, work gets into the public domain. Many images are in the public domain but It is difficult to tell what is in the public domain and what is not. It is best to assume copyright applies, unless you know for sure. Images from NASA and other government organizations are most likely to be in the public domain. Public domain works can be modified. You should indicate that the images you’re using are from the public domain.

3. Royalty-Free

Royalty-free, does not mean it is free to use. It means once you obtain rights to use it, you can use copyrighted materials again and again without the need to pay additional royalties or license fees. In most cases you still have to pay the first time. Most stock image websites are royalty-free based. Adobe stock, Getty Images, Shutterstock, Corbis etc. all provide images to purchase for use in individual publications, remember when a school purchases an image it is for them to use, not for them to redistribute. Redistribution by Jostens or any rep requires a different form of licensing. Always check your rights of use via the stock site to see what the requirements are when publishing images and/or art.

4. Creative Commons

The Creative Commons provides a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to and from others . Copyright law creates an “all rights reserved” overall setting and CC copyright licenses grant a variety of usage permissions. CC creates a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law. That said, every image is different and every image should be checked for the variety of creative commons licenses. Check each to see how it is tagged and follow their copyright statement. Some will require attribution.