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Finding and Using Images: Copyright and Citing

Selected sources and tools for finding, citing, and editing images -- both general and medical.

What is Creative Commons?

A free, public, and standardized infrastructure that creates a balance between the reality of the Internet and the reality of copyright laws. Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation.

See more detail and a short video:

Fair Use

If your work is non-profit research or study, usage of some images might be allowed under Fair Use. However, you must still cite your sources and give credit as appropriate.

Copyright and Fair Use

Downloading images from a web site? There are different models:

  • free usage
  • requires credit or attribution in a certain format
  • requires that you ask permission or pay a fee

Follow the copyright/usage policies for the site where you found the image.

Have more copyright questions? Consult the Copyright at UCSF guide. The site assembles a wide range of materials related to the use of copyrighted and public domain materials by individuals and educational institutions. It provides answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding educational use. Or, contact Peggy Tahir, Education and Copyright Librarian.

Citing Images

Images that you decide to use in a presentation, web site, or research paper must be cited according to the expected style (APA, MLA, etc.) Any images obtained from the web or scanned from a print source should be attributed to the owner of the copyrighted work.

The following elements may be required in the citation:

  • Artist's Name, if known
  • Title of Image
  • Title or description of image
  • Institution where held, if known.
  • Title of article or book (if applicable)
  • Author of article or book (if applicable)
  • Title and Date of magazine (if applicable)
  • Database name (if applicable)
  • Date of access if online or the publication if originally from print material
  • URL (if applicable)

The level of detail required for a published research paper might be different than for a class or conference presentation where just a URL linking to the original source might suffice.