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Copyright Information: Image sources/FAQ

In copyright-land, the term "images" includes photographs, paintings, sketches maps, diagrams, charts, etc. It doesn't matter where you find them - in books, the paper or on a website, as they are all equally protected by copyright. The only difference is that it's far easier to copy images off the Internet than it is to copy an image from a print source. This section is designed to (a) to help you find "copyright-friendly" image sources that you can use, and (b) answer some common questions about copyright in images.

For some copyright-friendly image sources, please click here.

Images - Common Uses

Can I use the images from a textbook for presentation slides and posting on Blackboard?

It is permissible to use images from a textbook in your presentation slides. Exceptions in the Copyright Act permit the use of copyrighted images in presentations by instructors to students at an educational institution. 

It is not permissible to post images from a textbook to Blackboard, include them in your course pack, or to hand them out to a class. If a PowerPoint presentation contains images and the PowerPoint presentation is posted to Blackboard, those images are considered to have been posted to Blackboard as well. Bear this in mind when creating PowerPoint presentations that you wish to post to Blackboard later. 

Also, be aware that "images" includes charts, diagrams, graphs, cartoons, photographs, and graphics.


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Can I use copyrighted images in PowerPoint presentations?

Under the Educational Exceptions in the Canadian Copyright Act, copyrighted images may be included in classroom presentations without permission provided that:

  • they are on display for educational purposes on the premises* of the institution; and
  • there is no commercial version available.

These images cannot, however, be shown outside of MRU without the copyright holder's permission.

 * The Copyright Act defines premises as "a place where education or training…is provided, controlled or supervised by the educational institution." This includes learning management systems (i.e. Blackboard) as a virtual classroom.


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Can I use copyrighted images from the Internet in class handouts?

It depends. The Educational Exceptions of the Copyright Act  permit the use of copyrighted images from the Internet in class handouts provided that the following criteria are met:

  • Full attribution information is given for the image, including the source and where possible, the creator;
  • The image does not appear to have been made available without the consent of the copyright holder and is not an infringing copy;
  • The image is not in a password-protected area of a web site, and is not subject to any other copy-protection scheme; and
  • The website which is the source of the image does not contain a clearly visible notice prohibiting the use of images from the site.

ALL of these criteria must be satisfied in order for you to take material from the internet. Additionally, remember that if you take an image from the internet you MUST comply with a website's Terms of Use.


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Can I include copyrighted comic strips or cartoons in my course material?

Instructors are permitted to distribute a single comic or cartoon from an anthology to their class for teaching purposes. Entire comic books, which are not part of a larger anthology, should not be copied. 


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Can I use copyrighted images in online content I create that will be accessed by the general public?

Best practice is to not use copyrighted images in online content which is available to the general public. Instead, use your own images, public domain images or images licensed under a permissive license, such as Creative Commons licenses. Once you make an image available to the general public, you can no longer rely on the educational exception in the Copyright Act.

If you cannot find a non-copyrighted alternative image to use in your online content, and you feel that the use of an image is absolutely vital, then you should seek permission from the copyright holder.  If granted, keep a record of that permission for as long as you use the image. If you cannot meet these criteria, you should not use the copyrighted image.


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Can I scan or photocopy a copyrighted image?

Photocopying an image (from a work containing other images) for personal use is allowable as long as the intended use falls under the Copyright Act's Fair Dealing exception. Note that the MRU Fair Dealing Guidelines permit copying of an image if it comes from a work containing other artistic works - it does not permit copying individual images that are not part of a larger work.

If the image comes from a website, you must comply with the website's Terms of Use, and take care to ensure the copyright owner of the image is the same as the copyright owner of the website (this is not always the case!).  

Digitizing/scanning is also allowable under Fair Dealing, and more explicitly under the Educational Exceptions of the Copyright Act. For example, it is acceptable to "make a copy of a work and project an image of that copy with an overhead projector or similar device" as long as the projection occurs on the premises of the college for an audience made up primarily of students and for the purpose of education or training.

You are still expected to properly cite the work by acknowledging the author and source of the material (e.g. using APA, MLA, or Chicago). This is necessary for both copyright attribution and academic integrity purposes.


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Can I modify or recreate a copyrighted image?

Copyright also protects the ability to adapt or modify a work. Modifying a copyrighted typically results in substantial amount of the original image being copied. Likewise, a recreation of a copyrighted image can be viewed as making a copy of the original image, even if the copy is not exact. Thus, copyrighted images may be modified (adapted) or recreated to the same extent that they can be copied. It is permissible to copy a single image from a larger work, such as a textbook, or from an anthology of images. 

The issue of modifying or adapting a copyright-protected work also touches on an author's moral rights. The following are some Canadian cases dealing with infringement of an author's moral rights:


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How do I seek permission to use a copyrighted image?

In Canada, there is one collective which represents many visual and media artists:

  • CARCC: Canadian Artists Representation Copyright Collective

Some of the copyrights administered by CARCC are exhibition, reproduction, reprography, and telecommunication. In addition to representing living artists, CARCC also represents artists' estates.

If the image you wish to use is not covered by CARCC, you will need to contact the copyright owner directly to seek permission  The MRU Copyright Advisor seeks permissions on behalf of MRU).


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Content on this page has been copied and adapted from the "Copyright at UBC" website, created by the University of British Columbia under a CC BY 4.0 International License.

Have a copyright question?

If, after browsing this guide, you still have questions or require additional information please contact, or 403.440.6618.

Student drop-in office hours on the main floor of the RLLC will resume in September, 2019.