Copyright & Fair Use of Pictures

Picture adapted from a public domain photo at

This blog exists for educational purposes, I’m not making money from it, and the images and materials I use aren’t likely to cause loss of earning for the people who produced them – but that doesn’t mean I have a right to use them.

Fair Use / fair dealing
There are many cases when it is appropriate to quote part of other people’s work, or show a picture or video, and lots of times when the owner is more than happy for the exposure. There is a concept in US law called ‘fair use’ and a similar one in other countries that makes it harder to sue people for using works without permission. Patent and Trademark attorney Paula Yost offers some helpful advice on dealing with SSLs (scary lawyer letters) from firms demanding money.

This blog is hosted on who provide useful advice for anyone considering suing their bloggers as well as for the bloggers themselves:

“Courts look at how the party claiming fair use is using the copyrighted work, and are more likely to find that nonprofit educational and noncommercial uses are fair.  This does not mean, however, that all nonprofit education and noncommercial uses are fair” – , Jan 2017

Other useful overviews of the issue of fair use include: (USA) and (UK)
Actual laws vary from country to country and the quality of any advice on the internet may vary from site to site.

Wise use
Copyright is not the only reason for caution. If ‘a picture paints a 1000 words’ then it’s worth knowing whether the words read are what you intended. Pictures can easily miscommunicate …but that’s another discussion.

Keeping track and giving credit
Knowing (and saying) where you got a picture from is helpful to other people who might want to use the same image, and to the people who created it (unless they wish to be anonymous). But giving the source still doesn’t mean you’ve been given permission to use it and not all websites giving or selling permission actually have the rights themselves.

There’s some good advice on giving attribution to works shared under creative commons licenses at


I’m planning to to a better job of keeping track of where I got my images from, checking whether I need to get further permission before using them, and giving credit to the people who created them.

I give you permission to reuse text and pictures in this page in accordance with a creative commons attribution-noncommercial 4.0 license –  this means you may quote it, translate it into other languages, and adapt it as appropriate providing that you link back to the original post and are not claiming my work as your own or earning money from it. (for other permissions please ask).


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