Copyright Guidance on the Use of Images

This page aims to guide committee members and others on their obligations in dealing with copyright issues.

A concise and reliable summary on copyright protection can be found at the official web site for intellectual property (under the specific section for copyright): 

The summary points below are intended to help protect members who wish to use images in Society publications.

  • Permission for use should be checked (or sought from the copyright holder) for any image reproduced within publicity material, leaflets and other publications or on a website
  • Sometimes permission will be freely available or contingent on a 'picture credit' being given (often placed alongside the image) and it is usual to comply with this requirement
  • A number of trusted sources will supply the above permissions (some with a charge and some royalty free) and a list is offered below
  • Images should not be used where the origin is unknown or where it is unclear as to whether permission has been given by the copyright holder
  • There is no relaxation to the general principles of copyright protection where the internet is the source of images
  • For some specific images compliance might involve contacting a particular photographer, artist, newspaper or publication
  • It is recommended that permission be verified in writing

Note that copyright lasts for the life of the originator plus 70 years and a photograph of an older artwork will have copyright.

Lecturers generally expect to be asked about use of images sourced from their material but may not be in a position to give assurances on copyright.

On a related matter, it is a requirement when taking your own images of children for a Young Arts project that permission is sought from the school and/or parents. 

The following is a list of image libraries or similar where images can be sourced safely. Please note that there might be a charge for some services.

  • Art and Architecture - The Courtauld Institute's collection online.  More than 40,000 images available to view.  Unclear if digital images can be bought directly from the site, although prints are available.
  • Artchive -
  • Art Cyclopedia -
    A search website which directs you towards museums / institutions which have images of specific artists which you enter into the search box.
  • Art renewal -
    Very good for 19th century European and American painters - high resolution images can be downloaded free of charge.
  • Athenaeum -
  • Bridgeman Images -
    Images from over 8,000 collections and 29,000 artists.
  • British Library Images Online -
    "A unique resource for commercial picture buyers, enabling you to license thousands of images from the British Library's unparalleled collections". Particularly useful for maps.
  • Creative Commons -
  • Getty Images -
    General site of fine and decorative art images with links to the websites from where they can be bought.
  • Great Buildings -
  • iStockPhoto -
    Digital images, and their copyright, can be bought from this site.  Probably better for architectural images rather than fine or decorative art pieces.
  • Pexels -
  • Pixabay -
  • Rijks Museum Photoservice - 
  • Shutterstock -
    Digital images, and their copyright, can be bought from this site.
  • The Met Collection -
  • Web Gallery of Art -
    The Web Gallery of Art is a virtual museum and searchable database of European painting and sculpture of the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassicism, Romanticism periods (1000-1850), currently containing over 24.000 reproductions.  Picture commentaries, artist biographies are available. 
  • London’s Wellcome Collection museum - 
    has made 100,000 digital images available for free, allowing users to download them via its website. The archives are split up into topics, ranging from health and sports to treasures and tattoo inspirations. The latter is particularly wonderful, with a range of artwork from all over the world, including Maori tā moko designs and botanical drawings.