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ASTR 104 Astronomy of Planets: Copyright of Images

What is copyright?

In the simplest terms, "copyright" means "the right to copy." In general, copyright means the sole right to produce or reproduce a work or a substantial part of it in any form.*

In terms of copyright for images, the term “images” incudes photographs, drawing, painting, charts, maps, diagrams, cartoons etc. This guide is designed to help you find copyright friendly images, and how to use/cite images for your research.

* Definition from Canadian Intellectual Property Office. Accessed May 5, 2017 from

Search Copyright Friendly Images

Search Creative Commons Images:

  • Offers convenient access to search services provided by other independent organizations, e.g. Google Web, Google Images,and Flickr

Search copyright friendly images from Google Advanced Image Search

  • Under "usage rights", select "free to use or share" from the dropdown menu.

Search Images in NASA, ESA, CSA from Google Advanced Image Search

  • Under "site or domain", type "", "", or ""
  • Images from NASA, ESA, CSA are copyright free, and can be used in your research report

Important: you still need to cite/provide attribution for the image even if it is copyright friendly.


What is Creative Common?

Creative Commons is a non-profit that helps sharing and reuse of creativity and knowledge via free legal and technological tools. These tools are not alternatives to copyright laws, rather they work alongside them.

This video from provides an overview of Creative Commons.

You can find more information about this on the Creative Commons FAQ.


Can I use copyrighted images for my research that will be posted online and accessed by the general public?

Best practice is not to use copyrighted images in online content which is available to the general public. Instead, use images that are copyright friendly. See the information on how to search copyright friendly images on this page.

If you feel that the use of an copyrighted image is absolutely essential, you should seek permission from the copyright holder.

Can I use copyrighted images in PowerPoint presentations?

It is permitted for classroom presentations or in a secured learning management system (e.g. Blackboard), provided that they are for educational purposes.

For more information, visit Copyright Information: Image Sources/FAQ