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CSPT500 / POLI 433 Politics of Colonialism

Local history resources (and more) in support of POLI 433

The Ethical use of Images: public domain, licences, and permissions

If you want to use images or other works in publications (including online publications) even if those publications are a required part of your assignments, you need to ensure that you are using those images ethically and legally.  

Works in the Public Domain are those for which copyright has expired (in Canada, that's 50 years after the death of the creator, unless copyright has been extended or the work remade into something new with its own copyright).   Determining whether something is in the public domain is very complicated.  When seeking images to use for your assignment, I urge you to:

  • look for material that's been specifically licensed for reuse;
  • to ask permission when licenses aren't clearly stated, and,
  • always (ALWAYS) provide attribution (a citation indicating the source of the work you're reusing).   

When in doubt, ask! 

Looking for Licences

1.  Go the original source!  Either follow the citations to the copyright holder or try to locate them via a google search, but you don't want to be in the position of having copied an illegal use of the image, or assuming you have permission because someone else asked for, and received, permission.  

2. Look at the source:  Archives, libraries, museums and government sites should have a copyright or licensing statement that tells you if using their images are permitted, and under what circumstances.  They may also provide you a statement of attribution that they want you to use, or contact information to seek permission.   Most of UVic Library's subscription databases are licensed for educational use but not publishing, so look for those statements as well, and consult a librarian to help you seek permission. 

3. The BC Archives search tool lets you limit by usage rights - more database creators are adding this tool. If you see one, use it! 

4.  Use Google Images 'more tools' feature, which allows you to limit search results by "usage rights".    Read about this.  Note that Google is US company and uses language related to US copyright law.  Once you have found an image that Google thinks is licensed for resuse, check on the page itself to confirm - Google does its best but is far from perfect, and the source page is the ultimate authority.  

5.  Ask for permission (politely).  Most sites will have contact information, enabling you to ask permission.  Tell the rights holder who you are, and what want to use their image(s) for, for the best chance of success.  Most GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) institutions are happy to give permission to students, with appropriate attribution, but they may not own the rights to the images on their web pages, so you need to ask if the permissions aren't clearly stated on the web page.  Follow up with a thank you, and a link to the place you've used their image.  

6. When you've decided to use an image in your work, regardless of the rights you feel you have to do so, always provide a citation or attribution statement (either as directed by the rights holder, or according to proper citation format).   If permission was granted, thank the institution on your page, and provide a link to their website - this will help future students as well as that institution.  

7. Better safe than sorry!  If you can't find a rights statement or way to seek permission, contact the UVic Copyright Office for guidance.  

Examples of rights statements

Here are some examples of copyright statements, so that you will recognize one when you see it:

From  "The digital reproductions on this site are provided to the public, and other researchers who visit this site, for teaching, research consultation and scholarly purposes only. Further distribution and/or any commercial use of the works from this site is strictly forbidden without the permission of the Times-Colonist (CanWest)"  

From the UVic Website: "The material on this site is covered by the provisions of the Copyright Act, by Canadian laws, policies, regulations and international agreements. Such provisions serve to identify the information source and, in specific instances, to prohibit reproduction of materials without written permission."

From the BC Archives: "Provided for research purposes only. Other use requires permission."

From the Royal BC Museum Website "Subject to your compliance with these Terms, the Royal BC Museum grants you a limited, non-exclusive license to (i) access the Site, and (ii) use, download, print and/or save Content for non-commercial, educational and personal use, and for any other purpose that would qualify as “fair dealing” under the Canadian Copyright Act, provided that the Content is not modified and that all copyright, trademark and other proprietary rights notices contained in or on the Content are retained.  Any other use of the Site or of any Content without the prior consent of the Royal BC Museum is prohibited.

Certain Content may be the property of third parties. You acknowledge that the Royal BC Museum supplies this Content to you as a service subject to these Terms, and to any addition terms and conditions required by the third party owners.

All rights not expressly granted by the Royal BC Museum are expressly reserved. Nothing contained in these Terms shall be construed as a grant by the Royal BC Museum or by a third party owner of any proprietary rights in any Content or related materials."

From Library and Archives Canada: "Unless otherwise specified, you may reproduce materials in whole or in part, in any format, if the work is not being revised or translated, for non-commercial purposes or for cost-recovery purposes without charge or further permission, provided you do the following:

  • Exercise due diligence in ensuring the accuracy of the materials reproduced;
  • Indicate both the complete title of the materials reproduced, as well as the author (where available); and
  • Indicate that the reproduction is a copy of the version available on the web [insert URL where the original document is available].

Unless otherwise specified, you may not reproduce materials from this site, in whole or in part, for the purposes of commercial redistribution or if the work is being revised or translated, without prior written permission. To obtain permission to reproduce Government of Canada materials held at LAC, please contact Copyright Services at LAC."



Creative Commons License
This work by The University of Victoria Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License unless otherwise indicated when material has been used from other sources.