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Copyright and Fair Use: Copyright for Students

This guide examines fair use in education and research, creating and using instructional materials, and the use of film and video in a classroom.

Citing Images from the Internet


by Walter Murphy, PhD

To use visual media from the internet, you must cite them.  Under APA format (7th edition), you cite these like you would cite other internet-based material, though there is some variability in APA format usage.  It is usually required that you get permission to use these kinds of images, but educational fair use may be less stringent, especially if you are not using most of the material from the webpage or hurting the original poster in some financial way.  There are also some photographs and other images that are specifically labeled for you to be able to reproduce, but you need to give a citation/credit (and references for assignments requiring use of APA format). 

Examples of citations and references:

1. Creative Commons licensed media:  This is a set of media specifically labeled as to whether you can use it.  I usually try to use CC0 media whenever possible, because they are public domain and pretty much anyone can use them.  However, CC BY and CC BY SA media are also useable.  A lot of images on Wikipedia are CC0. 

Image with general permission to be shared (electroencephalogram image):

Citation: (Photograph by Bemoeial, distributed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license)

Reference: ElectroEncephalogram.png. (2005, July 25). In Wikimedia.

2. Some media are available to those with a subscription, e.g. Shutterstock.  You are bound by the agreement with them but have access to a lot of images. 

See Example 98 on page 346 of the APA manual

3. Other media may be available to you through memberships; I have access to some images I use for class due to my Cengage faculty account or through organizations I belong to. 

4. You can write for permission to use some images; I have done that for some class images I use, especially if I know someone in the company or laboratory whose images I’d like to use. 

Image from website that is proprietary (image of baby with electrode cap):

(This is a still frame from a Youtube video; I have connections to the department.) 

Citation: (Boston’s Children’s Hospital, 2012, 0:02; used with permission)

Reference: Boston’s Children’s Hospital, (2012, April 30). Labs of Cognitive Neuroscience - Overview - Boston Children's Hospital. [Video]. Youtube.

Do NOT use other people’s private images without permission (e.g. Flickr or Instagram images).

There is more specific info about internet source citation and references in the APA manual under the visual media and audiovisual media topics; note that even clip art has rules for its use.

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