Visual resources

CAL Digital Education are able to provide support in the use of visual rescources in teaching. 


Below are our top tips to help you when choosing images to use in your research and teaching (expand each heading for more information)...

1. Consider using a University image database

When it comes to trying to find an image, subscription-based image databases are a great resource. The University pays fees to a number of organisations who provide images for educational re-use. You can freely use images from these sites without worrying that you are not complying with copyright law. They also provide access to thousands of images which you might not be able to find elsewhere, and offer far more comprehensive searching than a site like Google Images. Bridgeman Education, ArtStor, and ArtUK are great examples of sites which University staff and students are free to use in presentations. 

2. Be familiar with the law

Educational institutions in the United Kingdom are covered to re-use most copyrighted works by a legal exception known as Fair Dealing. Fair Dealing allows academics and students to re-use copyrighted works for the purposes of education and private research, but it does have certain criteria that muse be fulfilled for the re-use to be considered Fair Dealing. The important questions to ask yourself before re-using an image are:

  • Does my re-use affect the market for the original work?
  • Is the amount I’m reusing ‘resonable’?
  • Am I clearly using the work to illustrate a point in teaching?
  • Have I cited the work? (e.g included the title, author, and date)

Read more about the Fair Dealing exception here.

3.  Use a reliable source

In order to be covered by Fair Dealing, all the images you re-use should be accompanied by a citation. Sites like Pinterest can include images uploaded by any users on the web and often include incorrect information. To ensure your citation is accurate, and therefore covered by Fair Dealing, try to use reliable sources. For example, if you’re using a photograph by a particular photographer, try downloading it from their website. A good place to start for artworks is the website for the gallery holding the work, as many galleries now digitise their works to be viewed online. 

4. Look for Creative Commons works

Many creators and publishers recognise the limitations copyright places on us all to freely re-use their works for non-commercial purposes. In response, it is growing more popular to release works under a Creative Commons license. There are many different types of license, but the core tenet of them all is to permit the works to be reused freely, under certain conditions dependent on the license. Wikimedia Commons produces all its images under Creative Commons license. It is important to always check the license – the majority ask for attribution to be given to the creator, and demand that the work is only re-used under the same license. Read more about Creative Commons here.

In addition, Univeristy of Birmingham Library Services offer a Using Images LibGuide to support the use of still and moving images, by staff and students, in teaching and research. It contains useful sections on finding still imagesfinding moving images, and information for help you ensure you comply with copyright


Professional Services