For The Content Creator:
Copyright attaches as soon as a work of authorship is created. The work could be literary, written, dramatic, artistic (photographs, video, audio, infographics, etc.), musical and certain other types of works and it does not require the author to file any special paperwork as do patents or trademarks.
A copyright holder has four exclusive rights (17 USC Section 106):
Copyright does not apply to:
For The Content User :
Fair Use" Doctrine May Apply
Section 107 (17 USC Section 107) of the Copyright Act states:
The fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.
In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the four factors to be considered shall include:
To help support a fair use case for reusing an image:
For more assistance with copyright, use the MU Libraries Copyright guide.
Copyright for Educators
Best Practices for Using Images by Art and Visual Resources Organizations
VRA also created a Digital Image Rights Computator to assist users in assessing the intellectual property status of a specific image.
Copyright for Graduate Students
Sara Hawkins, creator of a Blog Law series, explains "The best ways to be sure that you're legally using online photos" in this Lifehacker article.
Sara Hawkins is the creator of a Blog Law series to help other bloggers, entrepreneurs, and online professionals gain legal confidence. Her goal is to make the law understandable and approachable without being overwhelming.
Go to TheVisualCommunicationGuy's website for a larger view of Can I Use that Picture? infographic.
The Center for Media & Social Impact (CMSI) has created a Set of Principles in Fair Use for Journalism to help journalists in the United States interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use. According to CMSI, "This set of principles does not describe the full extent of fair use rights. Instead, it describes how those rights should apply in certain common situations for journalists." Included with each principle is a description and its limitations based on these situations:
Best Practices for Locating Copyright Owners of Photographic and Visual Art - from the American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP) - provides suggestions and tools for locating known and unknown image creators.
Bielstein, Susan M. Permissions: A Survival Guide: Blunt Talk about Art as Intellectual Property. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.