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Finding Images

This guide provides information about digital image collections and other image resources of interest to artists, architects, art historians, and others studying visual culture at Washington University in Saint Louis.


Copyright assures creators of works a bundle of exclusive rights including: 

  • reproduction of works
  • distribution of copies
  • making of derivative works
  • public performance and display of works

Works are protected automatically and do not require a copyright notice (©) or registration. See the fair use resources to learn how you can use copyrighted works.

Fair Use

Under the Fair Use provision, Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act, four factors can be considered to determine if a use is fair:

Determining Fair Use of Images - Tools

General Fair Use tools:

Fair Use tools specificly for images:

VRA Statement on the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research and Study (Dec. 2011)

The statement enumerates a number of favored purposes for which the use of a copyrighted image will typically be fair, such as:

  1. Preservation (storing images for repeated use in a teaching context and transferring images to new formats)
  2. Use of images for teaching purposes
  3. Use of images (both large, high-resolution images and thumbnails) on course websites and in other online study materials
  4. Adaptations of images for teaching and classroom work by students
  5. Sharing images among educational and cultural institutions to facilitate teaching and study
  6. Reproduction of images in theses and dissertations (includes online distribution)


DIRC – Digital Image Rights Computator (2008)

The DIRC program guides you through a series of questions addressing the following five variables to determine if use is fair. The answer will be highlighted with a tan border. Keep in mind, DIRC is more conservative than VRA Statement on Fair Use.

1.       The copyright status of the underlying work represented in the image.

2.       The copyright status of the photographic reproduction.

3.       The specific source from which you have obtained the image under consideration.

4.       Any terms of use or contract that may govern the uses of this image.

5.       The intended use(s) of this image.