Do I have the rights to publish an image I found in a book or on a web site?

In general: no.

  • Books are copyrighted. The contents whose copyright is not owned by the publisher has been licensed.
  • As the owner of a book, you have a right to make copies for personal use––not to publish or share.

An exception is the doctrine of “fair use.”

copying of copyrighted material…for a limited and ‘transformative’ purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner.
  • This includes face-to-face teaching and critical commentary and discussion.
  • But in almost all cases, scholars ask permission before republishing materials they are commenting on critically.
  • And when the materials are on the web, linking back to the original is considered respectful and shows you are not appropriating someone else’s content but rather directing readers to it.

What about an image on a museum’s web site?


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