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Intellectual Property and the Arts

IMAGE SOURCES AND RIGHTS CLEARANCE AGENCIES

This section lists sources that provide images for a wide range of uses, including academic and scholarly use, with a focus on images suitable for publication. The current movement to make images in the public domain available without charge for use in academic publications is gaining momentum among cultural institutions and libraries. The increasing availability of high-resolution images combined with changes in scholarly publishing practice grounded in the principles of fair use, allows artists and scholars greater flexibility when using copyrighted material. The College Art Association no longer requires authors who publish in its journals to obtain permissions for the use of images and other third-party works if they determine, in good faith, that use of such third-party works is a fair use under US copyright law. In making that determination, authors are required to review the PDF of CAA’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts, available online at online at www.collegeart.org/fair-use/best-practices. The Code summarizes fair use, its application, and possible limitations on it. 

In addition to asserting fair use, authors may use works in the public domain without obtaining permissions. Even if the work itself is in the public domain, however, photographers of three-dimensional artworks (such as sculpture, architecture, or performance) or the organizations that employ them may hold rights in their photographs and control access to them. Likewise, fair use can be applied only to images and other third-party materials to which the user has access. Sometimes permission must be sought because a sole source controls an object or high-quality image of it, even when the underlying work itself is in the public domain.  Because demands for permission fees in this context are not based on copyright, fair use cannot be invoked to avoid paying such fees

Some users may prefer to work through image providers and agencies (e.g., Art Resource) in order to license high-quality reproductions of public-domain works. When working with fee-based agencies, a user may be asked to accept conditions regarding use and publication of the image that add limits to what would be otherwise freely available in the public domain. Requirements, such as a limited print run, may apply in some cases; these conditions are not copyright requirements, but rather part of a contractual agreement between the user and the institution offering access to the images. The user then will be bound by a contract or license that falls outside the legal domain of copyright.

Users should be mindful that contractual agreements are not a requirement of the public domain or fair use. Choosing not to accept a contract or to negotiate the conditions of a contract is a user’s right, but doing so may limit the user’s ability to license an image from that agency. Like some fee-based image licensing agencies, many copyright clearance agencies have arrangements with organizations in other countries and may be able to administer non-US copyright rights.

The list below provides basic information regarding terms and conditions of image use at institutions, with links that lead to the homepage or image resources page of the organization. Descriptions for each entry are provided by the institutions; the tags, such as “Fee for Commercial Use” or “Fee Discount for Academic Publication” are provided by CAA to guide the user in choosing resources appropriate to his or her needs. Agencies that supply images for publication only in exchange for a fee are listed at the end of this section.

Please carefully review the rights and permissions statements provided by each institution.

The Committee on Intellectual Property strives to keep this list up to date and all inclusive, but it recognizes that online information changes rapidly. We ask you to contact us with new links and corrections to assist us in maintaining this site.

Image Banks Based in the US*

Art Images for College Teaching Free for Personal Use in Education, Teaching, Academic Study and Research
ArtStor Images for Academic Publishing Free for Scholarly Publications
Artsy Open Access; Free and Unrestricted Use
Brooklyn Museum Free for Personal Use in Education, Teaching, Academic Study and Research; Fee for Commercial Use
Digital Public Library of America Image Use: Free Use and Open Access for Artworks in the Public Domain; Rights Evaluated by User
eMuseum Network Varies by Institution
The Frick Digital Image Archive Free for Personal Use in Education, Teaching, Academic Study and Research
The Getty Open Content Program Free, Unrestricted Use; Open Access; Artworks in the Public Domain
HathiTrust Digital Library Image Use: Free Use and Open Access for Artworks in the Public Domain; Use Varies by Institution
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens: The Huntington Digital Library Free for Personal Use in Education, Teaching, Academic Study and Research; Fee for Publication Use
Library of Congress Digital Collections Artworks in the Public Domain; Rights Evaluated by User; Contact Relevant Divisions
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) Free, Unrestricted Use; Artworks in the Public Domain
Medical Heritage Library Free, Unrestricted Use; Open Access; Images in the Public Domain
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Free for Academic and Scholarly Publication; Artworks in the Public Domain
National Gallery of Art Free, Unrestricted Use; Open Access; Artworks in the Public Domain
New York Public Library Free for Personal Use in Education, Teaching, Academic Study and Research; Fee for Publications
Philadelphia Museum of Art Some Images Free for Personal and Non-Commercial Use; Fee for Scholarly Publications and Commercial Use
Skillman Library at Lafayette College Digital Scholarship Services Image Use: Free for Personal Use in Education, Teaching, Academic Study, and Research; Permission Required for Electronic or Print Publication
The Walters Museum of Art Free, Unrestricted Use; Artworks in the Public Domain
Yale University Artworks in the Public Domain; Open Access; Free, Unrestricted Use

*For museums not listed here, check eMuseum Network, which features images from 60 institutions. Image use varies, and most records include links back to the collections database of the institution. The network is hosted by Gallery Systems, creators of TMS collections management software.

Image Banks Based Outside of the US*

Bibliothèque nationale de France
Free for Personal Use in Education, Teaching, Academic Study and Research; Fee for Noncommercial Use; Fee Discount for Academic Publications; Fee for Commercial Use
The British Library Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts Free, Unrestricted Use; Artworks in the Public Domain
The British Museum Free for Personal Use in Education, Teaching, Academic Study and Research; Free for Scholarly Publications (Print-Run Restrictions); Fee for Commercial Publications and Large Print Runs
Classical Art Research Centre and The Beazley Archive Free for Personal Use in Education, Teaching, Academic Study and Research
Europeana Image Use: Varies by Institution
Hermitage Museum Free for Personal Use in Education, Teaching, Academic Study, and Research
Koninklijke Bibliotheek: National Library of the Netherlands Free, Unrestricted Use
Museo Nacional del Prado Fee for Publication
Museos de Andalucía Free for Personal Use in Education, Teaching, Academic Study and Research
Museum of New Zealand: Te Papa Tongarewa Free for Personal Use in Education, Teaching, Academic Study and Research; Open Access and Unrestricted Use for Some Images in Collection
Nationaal Archief: gahetna.nl  (The Hague) Free, Unrestricted Use
Rijksmuseum Free, Unrestricted Use; Open Access
Statens Museum for Kunst: National Gallery of Denmark Free, Unrestricted Use; Open Access
Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) Free for Personal Use in Education, Teaching, Academic Study and Research; Free for Print-Based Scholarly Publications (Print-Run Restrictions); Fee for Commercial and Large Print-Runs
The Wellcome Library: Wellcome Images Free, Unrestricted Use; Open Access
World Images Kiosk Free for Personal Use in Education, Teaching, Academic Study and Research; Fee for Commercial Use

*For museums not listed here, check eMuseum Network, which features images from 60 institutions. Image use varies, and most records include links back to the collections database of the institution. The network is hosted by Gallery Systems, creators of TMS collections management software.

Fee-Based Image Banks

Some of the organizations listed below offer discounts for bulk orders and scholarly publications.

Alamy (UK)

Alinari (Italy)

Art Resource

Bridgeman Art Library (UK and US)

BPK (Germany)

Corbis Images

Getty Images

Réunion des Musées Nationaux (France)

Scala (Italy)

Smithsonian Institution

Worldimages

 

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