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Finding Images


Copyright & Public Domain Images

This guide will point to sources of images for research and illustration.

Copyright vs Public Domain

Images that are not in the Public Domain are protected by Copyright Law.  The Fair use exception allows for a limited use of images for educational purposes without obtaining permission from the copyright holders.   Some copyrighted images may be offered for reuse under a Creative Commons license which grants permission to the public to access, share and reproduce those works. There are several different Creative Commons licenses that may be applied, so be sure to check what uses the license allows. In addition, some of the sources below may contain both public domain and Creative Commons images so it is important to check the terms of use of each image.

Creative Commons Images

Images for Academic Publishing

There is an ever-growing list of museums that are making high-resolution images of works no longer under copyright,  available to be used without restriction.  Check individual museum sites and "terms of use"  to see how their images can be used. Make sure image quality standards offered by individual sites comply with quality standards requested by publishers (file size, clarity, sharpness, etc.).  Below is a selective list of such providers.

Clearing Houses to Obtain Rights for Images under Copyright

Art Resource is the clearing house for the rights of major European an American museums, archives and collections.
Artists Rights Society (ARS) is a clearing house for the rights of the majority of the artists active in the 20th century
Bridgeman Images provides copyright clearing and reproduction rights services
Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) major copyright clearance service
Scala Picture Archive represents over 7300 museums in Europe, Russia, United states and other countries. Images from the major museums of Italy, including the Vatican can be found here
bpk Photo Agency with over 12 million images from Museum Collections in Augsburg, Bayreuth, Berlin, Chemnitz, Dresden, Hamburg, Hannover, Kassel, Leipzig, Munich, Potsdam, Schwerin, Weimar, Paris, Chantilly, Ecouen, and Nizza.