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Graphic Design: Copyright and Fair Use



The protection given to any created image or work for being copied or distributed without permission. All images are immediately given copyright to the creator when the image is created. 

Fair Use

The legal right to use copyrighted images as long as the images are used for educational, research, or personal or use or as long as the image benefits the public good in some way.   

Creative Commons

Images that are copyrighted but that the creator has put provisions on their use. A creative commons license might stipulate, for example, that an image can be used as long as it isn't modified in any way. 

Public Domain

Images that no longer have copyright restrictions either because the creator willingly relinquished their copyright or because the creator is dead and no one owns the copyright.   


Have scholarly publishing questions?

Librarians at MIT can assist you with copyright, fair use, rights and scholarly publication questions. Check out Scholarly Publication page here: or contact

Photo by Mollie Sivaram on Unsplash

Can I use this image?

Newbold, Curtis. Can I use this image? 2014. Web. 20 March 2017. 

Newbold, Curtis. Can I use this image? 2014. Web. 20 March 2017.