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Finding and Using Media: Copyright

How to find images to reuse on web pages and elsewhere.

Copyright and media use and reuse

U.S. copyright law gives a creator exclusive rights to use and reuse their creations and to authorize others to use their creations.  Any individual can write text, create artwork or other images, compose and perform music or other sounds, write computer code, or create any other original content.   A creator can also be a corporation.

Canvas Course File Usage Rights

Loyola's Canvas will soon require faculty to set a usage right (copyright) for each file you upload to your course. Usage rights must be assigned to files before files can be published to the course. If a file or multiple files are located in a folder, you can set usage rights through folders. See Canvas's guide for full instructions.

The following rights options are available in Canvas:

  • I hold the copyright (original content created by you)
  • I have obtained permission to use the file (authorized permission by the author)
  • The material is in the public domain (explicitly assigned to public domain, cannot be copyrighted, or is no longer protected by copyright)
  • The material is subject to an exception - e.g. fair use, the right to quote, or others under applicable copyright laws (excerpt or summary used for commentary, news reporting, research, or analysis in education)
  • The material is licensed under Creative Commons; this option also requires setting a specific Creative Commons license

Use the remainder of this guide to determine the copyright status of files you wish to upload, and to find reusable media.


Fair use

Section 107 of the copyright law covers the doctrine of fair use. Fair use permits limited use of copyrighted material without obtaining the copyright holder's permission for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research.

Fair use generally applies to work done for nonprofit educational purposes. However, student websites that are freely available online may not be covered by fair use, especially if the assignment or class the work was done for is over and the website remains online. 

Fair use is complicated. Stanford University Libraries provide a good overview.  The Center for Media and Social Impact has several publications on fair use best practices

Contact Jessica Perry or Laurie Phillips if you have questions about Fair Use and your course reserves.

Alternatives to copyright

Copyright is automatic but is not the only way to manage original works.  Content can be released into the public domain for everyone to use.  Works may also be made available under a legal license other than copyright.  The Creative Commons organization has written legal licenses that allow reuse of content less restrictive than copyright, for example, specificying that all reuse of content is permitted as long as the original author is credited.  These licenses were originally created under U.S. law but are being rewritten in countries all over the world.  

Alternatives are sometimes called "copyleft." 

Royalty Free

Royalty-free, or RF, refers to copyrighted media or intellectual property that does not require ongoing royalty or licensing fee payments; instead, you may pay a one-time fee in order to use the media multiple times. There may be a limit as to the number of times you can reuse the media. RF licenses are not exclusive, so others may purchase and use the same media as you. 

Contact for Finding, Using, and Citing Media

Contact for Reserves and Fair Use

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Jessica Perry
(504) 864-7057

Contact for Reserves and Fair Use

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Laurie Phillips

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