Using images & diagrams

You can copy images, diagrams and artistic works for educational purposes under Part VB of the Copyright Act.

They can be included in lecture presentations and notes and uploaded onto course websites via learning management systems such as WebCT and Lectopia (unlike text-based copyright materials, which must be made available to students via the Library’s eReadings service).


What are artistic works?

Images and diagrams are classed as artistic works in the Copyright Act and include:

  • images and diagrams
  • paintings, drawings and engravings
  • cartoons
  • sculptures
  • photographs
  • buildings and models of buildings
  • maps and charts
  • craftworks such as mosaics, jewellery and textile art.

Charts can be classed as literary works or artistic works depending upon the amount of artistic endeavour involved in their creation. You can usually copy these if they have not been separately published.

Tables and flowcharts are commonly classed as literary works but can usually be copied if they have not been separately published.


What images and diagrams can I use in teaching resources?

The source of the image or diagram is important in determining what you can copy:

Hard copy format images and diagrams
(from printed books, journals and newspapers)

  • can be copied and communicated, if they have not been separately published
  • images that have been separately published, can still be copied and communicated if they cannot be purchased at an ordinary commercial price in a reasonable period of time
  • remember to acknowledge the author and source of the image

Electronic format images and diagrams
(from online books, journals and websites)

  • can be copied and communicated without further investigation
  • check the terms of use for image databanks as some impose fees
  • remember to acknowledge the author and source of the image


How can I tell if an image, diagram or artistic work has been separately published?

Determining if an image has been separately published can be difficult.
The term ‘separately published’ usually means that the image or diagram has been published on its own as a separate or single work and can be purchased on its own as a separate item.

This will vary with the type of material and subject area but note the following points:

  • most images, diagrams, charts and graphs published in academic books and journals have not been separately published
  • artworks, maps, wall charts, posters and cartoons are more likely to have been separately published and be available for purchase
  • photographs published in newspapers are usually available for purchase from the publisher of the newspaper
  • to establish if other images are available for purchase, check online image banks or carry out a Google search.


Altering diagrams & images for teaching purposes

This is a complex area but generally, you should be able to rely on Part VB to modify a diagram, artwork or image for educational purposes.

Keep the moral rights provisions of the Copyright Act in mind and acknowledge the creator of the original work. Modifications that might adversely affect the integrity of the work or the reputation of the creator should be avoided as these might infringe the moral rights of the creator.

Consider using the following acknowledgement:   "Based on ..." 


Using images in lectures & eLearning sites

Provided you have carried out the copyright checks set out above, you can include images and artistic works in your lectures, as slides, transparencies or as part of a PowerPoint presentation and on your course website, along with your notes.


  • if you are using PowerPoint in your lecture, include the Part VB Warning Notice at the beginning of the presentation, as shown in example 1.

Example 1
Sample copyright notice indicating lecture name, lecturer and Part VB of Copyright warning notice


  • you must include a Part VB Warning Notice with your online lectures
  • usually a Part VB Warning Notice at the beginning of the notes for each lecture online will be sufficient, if the images are embedded in the text of your lecture
  • if your website structure allows students to navigate directly to each image, the Warning Notice must appear alongside each image or diagram
  • online access must be restricted to staff and students of the University
  • remember to acknowledge the source and creator of the material
  • you may be required to report data about online images and diagrams during a monitoring or survey period once every 3-4 years.


Can I use an image if I don't know the creator or source?

No, you can't use an image if you don't know its source. The lack of citation information poses a real risk to individual academics and the University in that both parties may find themselves facing legal action for the following reasons:

  • Part VB of the Copyright Act requires those using images for educational purposes to carry out some basic checks on the copyright status of the works. However, if the source of the work has not been given, these checks cannot be conducted and the risk of copyright infringement is increased
  • the moral rights clauses in the Copyright Act also require us to acknowledge the creator of a work and failure to do this may be an infringement of the creator's so-called 'paternity' right or right to attribution

The University has determined that all images uploaded to University Learning Management Systems MUST be accompanied by a citation of the source of the work.

Images, diagrams and similar works without citation information will be removed from course websites on the University Learning Management Systems via a program of regular checks and audits. Checks for copyright maintenance will be coordinated by University Copyright Services.


What can I do if I inherit images without source citations in lecture notes prepared by colleagues?

This can be a difficult situation to manage especially when there are time constraints.

Options include:

  • finding alternative images to use - see Finding images for sources of images.
    Remember that it is often easier to use images from electronic publications, databases and websites as these can be used without additional copyright checks. However, you still need to acknowledge the author and source of the images.
  • removing the uncited images, especially if they do not form a significant part of the content and play a largely decorative role
  • temporarily removing the images until you have time to locate the citations or find replacement images with full citations.