OER at Georgian

Cite it! Giving credit to copyright owners or creators

Unless an image or visual is specifically licensed as being

  • in the public domain
  • covered by a Creative Commons license (Such as: CC0, CC BY, CC BY-NC)

assume that it is covered by Copyright, even if there is no specific copyright statement noted.

  • Public domain and CC licensed images can be reproduced in your OER with appropriate attribution (unless otherwise noted)
  • Copyrighted images may be reproduced if the use is considered fair (please check with the Copyright team)

We recommend using proper attribution for all images/content used in OER - even if the material appears to be marked in the Public Domain/CC0.

Images that are licensed under CC or are in the Public Domain provide a great way to enhance your OER work and course materials, without traditional copyright barriers.

Here are some great places to search for images online.

  • OpenVerse: Great collection of CC licensed images, with an attribution generator.
  • Creative Commons
  • Noun Project
  • Google Images: Explore the "Tools" tab to select your "Usage Rights" option that best suits your use to ensure you find an image you are able to use for your purpose. 
  • Flickr: After entering the image you are searching for in the search box, from the "Any license" drop-down menu, select "All creative commons"

Collections such as Pixabay, Pexels & unsplash (see web-based images) now display both pay-to-use and free-to-use images in search results. Check carefully. Note that these collections are not using CC licensing - they have developed their own licenses.

Best practice: ALWAYS Cite or attribute your source (regardless of license), noting where you found the image. See our APA guide or the Attribution page for help with this. 

Images published in a textbook or source protected by Copyright

Because diagrams and images in a textbook could be considered "an entire artistic work", we are limited by Fair dealing as to how many images we can reproduce from a single source.

Options & Alternatives:

  • Use it, cite & reference it -- Check with the Library team to ensure copyright compliance, since you are reproducing the image!
  • Obtain permission to reuse specific diagrams from an original textbook - contact the Copyright team for more details
  • Create something new! Use a digital media lab to create professional versions of hand drawn diagrams, take your own photos of a lab set up etc.
  • Search other OERs and CC licensed images for materials that are already licensed for reuse.

Many search engines now offer an option to limit your results to those that are CC licensed or in the public domain. See the CC & Public Domain tab for recommendations!

Image collections that may be free to use:

Check the image you select carefully. These collections now offer both free to use alongside pay-to-use images!

Recommended Starting point: OpenVerse

  • Search OpenVerse
  • Limit by license / type of resource
  • Use the attribution generator for quick citation

If you're looking for images using Google image search:

  • Try limiting by the copyright / license / permissions on the image (Check the Advanced search page)
  • Always check the original page/site where the image is posted for licensing and copyright info (not the Google images results)
  • Ensure images have been posted by the copyright or CC license owner
  • Add a citation or attribution statement to give credit

Note: If you don't see a specific CC license or note about public domain, you must assume the image is subject to Copyright.

Contact the Library's Copyright team if you are unsure about the licensing of a particular image.

Royalty free and stock images show up frequently when searching the web. Though the word "Free" may be mentioned on websites with these collections, these images are generally not free to use and come with specific licensing and copyright expectations.

Examples of website that sell licenses to use royalty free / Stock images:

  • shutterstock
  • iStock

Even image repositories/websites that offer CC licensed or public domain images for use may display links to images that require payment and may have specific licensing requirements. Read carefully!

Before you spend money on a license to use or reproduce any image:

  • Read the licensing agreement very carefully - these collections may have very specific and/or restrictive uses associated with the license you're paying for
  • Ensure your intended use(s) for the image will be covered by the license granted for a fee
  • Note any restrictions to the duration of use, types of use, limits on the number of views (electronic) or print limits

If you have questions or are unsure of the license you are granted through these services, please contact the Library's Copyright Team for advice.



This guide was designed solely for informational purposes for Georgian College students, faculty & staff.

All other users are encouraged to check and confirm the information with their institution.

This site is prepared by library staff and is not reviewed by legal counsel.

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