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BIOD25: Genomics

Images and Copyright

Images can be a great way to spruce up your blog and generate interest. When selecting images for your post, it's important to check for any copyright terms or restrictions attached to the image and, where permitted for use, to properly cite the source. 

The Canadian Copyright Act permits the use of copyright-protected images/videos under specific circumstances as outlined in the law’s fair dealing clauses. These exceptions include purposes related to research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review, and news reporting. Despite these exceptions, however, there are still limitations around the extent to which they can be used. Therefore it’s part of your job as a researcher to determine the copyright status of any images/videos you want to include to make sure you have the proper permissions to use them.

Using images that either a) are in the public domain, or b) have a Creative Commons (CC) license can help simplify this process, as these images do not have the same restrictions in place. Below you will find a quick overview of each, as well as recommended resources for locating images.

Creative Commons (CC)

A public copyright license that allows and enables the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work. It is used when an author wants to give other people the right to share, use, and build upon work that they have created. Creative Commons licenses:

  • Allow authors/creators to specify who can use the work (commercial versus noncommercial uses)
  • Protect people who use or redistribute an author's work from concerns or copyright infringement (as long as they follow the conditions specified by the license)
  • Can be applied to all works that fall under copyright, including books, movies, art work, blogs, and images

There are numerous Creative Commons licenses which outline proper use, so be sure to check that you are using the image in the appropriate way. For more information about the various licenses, please see the Creative Commons website.

Public Domain

This refers to creative works such as photographs and other images, books, music, etc., that are not covered by copyright, trademark, or patents. In fact, the public owns these works.  You do not need to obtain permission in order to use these works. There are four main ways that a work enters the public domain:

  • The copyright expires
  • The copyright has not been renewed
  • The creator places it in the public domain
  • Copyright law does not protect this kind of work

Before using images, be sure to read any terms of service so that you understand any requirement for crediting the image. If you're unsure about these requirements, contact your Liaison Librarian for help.

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