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The Graduate Health & Life Sciences Research Library at Georgetown University Medical Center

Image Use

This guide will help you determine how to use images in both academia and publishing.

Copyright Language

It is important to acknowledge the Copyright language surrounding the topic of image use in face-to-face versus distance education sessions.

According to the US Copyright Act section 110(1): An image that is copied lawfully for students in a face-to-face session is not considered infringement. 

According to the US Copyright Act section 110(2): Image use that is comparable to what would be used in a face-to-face session is not considered infringement if the following requirements are met: 

  1. integral part of the class session
  2. Directly related to what is being taught in the lesson
  3. Use of an Learning Management System (LMS), such as Canvas, in place to ensure the image is only for students in current course session
  4. Efforts are put in place to prevent unauthorized transmission and doesn't affect passwords or encryption put in place by the image creator
  5. Copyright policies are in plain sight for students to view

It is also important to discuss Fair Use: Fair Use is both extremely broad and intentionally ambiguous, which can be a good or a bad thing. When determining whether a use is "Fair" use the 4 factors:

  1. Purpose or Character of the Use: Will the image be for commercial or non-commercial use? Most of the time using an image for academic purposes is considered non-commercial
  2. Nature of the Work: Is the image from a fictional or non-fictional work? It is more common in the sciences to share work in order for others to build upon it
  3. Amount or substantiality of the work: Do you show the entire image to the class or a portion of the image? If the image is from a journal article do you need to include the entire article? 
  4. Effect of the use on the market of the work: Will the use positively or negatively effect the sale of the work overall?


The purpose of this guide is to provide resource and information for resolving image use questions. This research guide does not supply legal advice nor is it intended to replace the advice of legal counsel.