Skip to main content

Image Collections for CCNY Users: Copyright

This guide points to images and image collections, some available to CCNY users only, that may be useful for your research.

Books and Articles

Today, authors are frequently responsible for not only finding the pictures for their publications, but securing the permission for copyright as well.

It's much easier to use images from copyright-free or copyright-friendly collections than from the general world.  However, sometimes, specific images are necessary.

Locating Copyright Holders
There are several ways to locate the holders of copyrighted images.  In addition to searching the web, two books identify larger holders of image-copyright (institutions) and the officers who control them:

University of Reading WATCH (Writers, Artists and their Copyright Holders) site - a clearinghouse for copyright holders

Bielstein, Susan M. Permissions:  A Survival Guide: Blunt Talk about Art as Intellectual Property.  Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2006.  Cohen Library KF3050.B54 2006

Evans, Hilary. Picture researcher’s handbook : an international guide to picture sources and how to use them. Cohen Library N4000 .E8 1996

Frequently, permission for copyright is easier to secure when the copyright holder does not also have to provide the image as well.  When contacting the copyright holder, if you state you have an acceptable image to use, it's simply a matter of of signing a waiver (and paying a fee).

Copyright Resources

(C)opyright @ CUNY is a web resource designed to support the CUNY community in making independent, informed decisions about copyright compliance and educational fair use.

Copyright Matrix - Cornell University's table to figure out the law, not necessarily for art (but see "Special Cases" section at end).

Copyright & Art - Christine Sundt's page and links to making the "reasonable effort" to locating art copyright holders, including "orphaned works" (those you can no longer tell if copyright holders exist).

Fair Use Guidelines For Digital Images provides useful information for assessing fair use of digital images.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Terms and Conditions page is pretty standard for museum copyright.

Columbia University's "Copyright, Museums, and Licensing of Art Images".

Copyright Ownership in Works of Art and Images is a discussion of the current state of copyright practice limited to copyright in works of visual art and architecture and in images that reproduce them.

The Copyright Slider allows you to decide if a work published first in the U.S.A. is protected by copyright.

The Fair Use Evaluator can help you decide if you are using copyrighted materials "fairly" under the U.S. Copyright Law.

Know Your Copy Rights  - A project of the Association of Research Libraries providing useful information on using copyrighted material in an academic setting.

Rights Clearance

VAGA - Visual Artists and Galleries Association, Inc. artists rights organization and copyright collective for 500 American artists and affiliated foreign artists worldwide.

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators

Association of American Editorial Cartoonists

ARS - Artists' Rights Society. The copyright, licensing, and monitoring organization for many 20th and 21st-century visual artists in the United States.

Stock Artists Alliance

Important Point to Remember

Whenever electronic course content is incorporated into Blackboard sites--including both licensed images and those used under fair use--faculty must be careful not to turn on "guest" access to their sites. The default is restricted access to registered students only.  Turning on guest access could both violate license terms and vitiate a fair use argument where images are used.

Associate Dean & Chief Librarian (Emeritus)

Chip Stewart's picture
Chip Stewart
Chip Stewart
Associate Dean & Chief Librarian
City College Libraries/CUNY
160 Convent Avenue
New York, NY 10031


Special thanks to Lee Sorensen of Duke University for permitting the use of his Image Collections for Duke Users guide as a template for this guide.