The Visual Resources Center offers assistance to the faculty of the History of Art Department in obtaining images and permissions for research publications. If you are interested in having the VRC assist you in obtaining images and permissions, please contact us to discuss the time frame and demands for your publication. Please note, based on our experience with previous projects, our recommended timeframe is to begin your image requests 2-3 months in advance of your publication deadline for articles, and 6 months for books. After consulting with the VRC staff, please fill out the Form to Request Images and Permissions for Publication.
Copyright for Use in Instruction and Publications
Educational use for other image sources may also fall within the guidelines of educational fair use. Fair use is a legal doctrine that allows for limited uses of copyrighted works without first having to acquire permission. Fair use is not always easy to interpret, so please consult the following sources in the 'copyright policies and tools' section below and to determine fair use in your particular case.
Use in Publications
The majority of the materials in the VRC collection are copyrighted and may not be reproduced for publication (including electronic or print publications), public websites, exhibitions, or broadcasts. Permission to reproduce part or all of these images must be requested from the rights owner in advance.
Permission for use of museum images can often be requested through the Rights and Reproductions department of a museum. You may also consult the sources below under the "Image Sources and Rights Clearance Agencies" section to obtain rights to publish a copyrighted image.
Copyright Policies and Tools
- Can I Use that Picture? The Terms, Laws, and Ethics for Using Copyrighted Images. Decision tree to help determine the copyright, fair use, public domain or creative commons status of an image.
- University of California copyright website Guide to copyright at the University of California
- College Art Association: Intellectual Property and the Arts List of resources about copyright legislation affecting educators, scholars, museum professionals, and artists.
- Digital Copyright Slider: An online program to assist users in assessing the copyright status of printed information. Provided by the American Library Association's Office for Information Technology.
- Digital Image Rights Computator: An online program to assist users in assessing the intellectual property status of images of art and architecture. Created by the Visual Resources Association.
- Columbia University: What is Fair Use? Guide on fair use created by the Copyright Advisory Office at Columbia University. Includes a fair use 'checklist'.
- United States Copyright Office: The U.S. government site for information on copyright.
- Visual Resources Association Statement on Fair Use: Statement on the fair use of images for teaching, research, and study.
- Copyright & Art Issues: Website with a focus on fair use as it applies to the fine arts and digital images. Website links compiled and maintained by the former Visual Resources Curator, Christine Sundt.
- European Public Domain Calculator hosted by Europeana: Public domain calculator to help you to determine the copyright status of a work.
- Stanford Copyright & Fair Use: Introduction to the Permissions Process: Guide to the whole permissions process, including the purpose and legal basis for permission, as well as the potential risks of operating without permission.
- Harvard Law School Library: Finding Public Domain & Creative Commons Media: Guide to help you find and correctly attribute public domain and Creative Commons media for your project or presentation.
Image Sources and Rights Clearance Agencies
Free Images for Academic Use
The following sites contain images either in the public domain, or approved for educational use and scholarly publication. Also see the College Art Association website of image sources and rights clearance agencies and our Digital Resources Guide for a more complete list.
- British Museum, London High-resolution images for educational use and academic publications may be downloaded for free.
- Flickr Commons Various cultural institutions have contributed content to the Flickr online photo management system. Contributors include: The Library of Congress; The Smithsonian; George Eastman House; Brooklyn Museum; Getty Research Institute; New York Public Library, and dozens more. Images in Flickr Commons have "no known copyright restrictions".
- Images for Academic Publishing (IAP) | ARTstor Search on the ARTstor website with the search term IAP to find publication-quality images for use in scholarly publications free of charge. Click on the IAP icon to begin the download process of a high-resolution, publication-quality image. Participating institutions include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Princeton University Art Gallery, Yale University Art Gallery, Dallas Museum of Art, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art, among others.
- Getty 'Open Content' Program The open content images from the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Getty Research Institute's collections are of works of art believed to be in the public domain and are available for free and without restriction.
- Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) The content on the site marked "Public Domain High Resolution Image Available" consists of images of works from LACMA's permanent collections that are in the public domain. LACMA is providing high resolution images of these works free of charge and for use without restriction.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Thousands of public domain works are now available free of charge for any use, commercial or non-commercial. Users do not need to contact the Gallery for authorization to use these images. Search on the 'open access available' images.
- New York Public Library High-resolution downloads for their public domain content for use without restrictions.
- Rijksmuseum Public domain images in Rijksstudio may be downloaded for free from the relevant page. These jpeg images are 4500 x 4500 pixels on average.
- Victoria and Albert Museum, London Over a million data records are searchable, although fewer images are available. Free high-resolution images available for educational use or academic publications.
- Wikimedia Commons Wikimedia Commons is a media repository with millions of image, audio, and video files. All files are in the public domain and are freely available for educational use. The files are contributed by the general public, using the same Wiki-technology as Wikipedia.
Fee-based Image Banks
Fee-based agencies that will provide publishing rights for images still under copyright.
- Art Resource Clearing house for the rights of major European an American museums, archives and collections.
- Artists Rights Society (ARS) Clearing house for the rights of the many artists active in the 20th century.
- Bridgeman Art Library Rights management for museum and public and private art collections.
Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (DAI) The Institute maintains libraries and photo archives of archeological sites.
- Getty Images Rights-managed and royalty-free photo collections
- VAGA Representing visual artists' copyrights worldwide
- WATCH File Database of copyright contacts for writers, artists, and prominent figures in other creative fields.