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Copying images and the law

This University of Bath Library guide gives advice about the rules for copying images and the ways in which you are allowed to copy them.

General rules for copying images

Images may include:

  • Still images include photographs, charts, diagrams, maps, models, plans, tables, drawings, buildings, lithographs, paintings, sculptures and woodcuts.

  • Moving images include broadcasts, films and videos.

Please note:

  • You should check for permissions and abide by any restrictions imposed by the online source of the image (website, blog or other online publication). You should note that website owners may not own an image copyright. If in doubt you should ask permission from the copyright holder.

  • Where you are permitted to copy an image, you always need to reference the source, for example the website where the image is used. You also need to reference the copyright owner in order to avoid plagiarism and the related potential penalties.

  • You can link to a PDF guide to referencing images for more detailed advice.

  • Adapting images: most images must not be manipulated. If you are allowed to copy an image and want to adapt it, you must obtain permission from the copyright holder.

  • Where copying is permitted, images can only be used for non-commercial purposes such as education. This includes images made available under Creative Commons.

  • Examinations and theses: you may copy whatever you need for educational purposes - if the material is published, or made available on the University of Bath research repository Pure or EthOS system for online theses, any copyright material should be removed unless you have permission from the copyright holder.

  • Privacy laws: if you want to use images that contain people, in particular children, you need to seek their permission. Copyright is retained by a photographer or artist for 70 years until after their death.

  • Logos and some cartoons may never be reproduced, even to promote the websites or printed material they come from.

  • Performing rights: if you wish to perform or film, play, musical or opera, you may need to seek permission to do so. 

Specific rules for coursework and teaching 


  • Online images: check the Terms and Conditions in the relevant website. Links to Terms are usually found at the bottom of a homepage. Students are often allowed to make a single copy of an image for their coursework.

  • Printed images:  students are allowed to make a single copy of an image for coursework

  • Sharing: coursework should not be published or shared on the internet, for example Facebook, without asking permission from the copyright owner.


  • Online images: check the Terms and Conditions within the relevant website. A link to the Terms is often found at the bottom of the homepage.  If permission is granted, only one copy of an image may be made. Some sites allow more than one copy of the image to be used for educational purposes.

  • Printed images: under the CLA license, multiple print copies of printed material are permitted i.e. one per student enrolled on a course with the exception of publishers and works that are excluded from this license as shown in the CLA License restrictions.

  • Publication: images used must not be published without permission, either electronically for example via the Pure research repository, Facebook or in printed format.

  • Moodle: if adding images to an online course, you need to also add a link to the homepage of the source website within the virtual learning environment.

  • Public access forums: you should not link courses or coursework to such forums for example, Facebook

  • Disembedded images from scanned material: to use these, refer to Scanning Guidelines


If you have any questions, please contact us.

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