Skip to Main Content

Copyright: Images and Media

Copley Library is committed to helping the USD community understand and use copyright regulations in their scholarship and teaching. In this guide, you'll find resources on fair use, copyright for authors, information on using images and media, and more.

Copyright and Fair Use for Images and Media

Using someone else's images and media require consideration of copyright, just like printed material.  In academic situations, use of non-print material can still follow Fair Use guidelines.  The issue of determining a rights-holder can be more complicated with images and media, but it is still a necessary step to avoid infringement.  The tabbed boxes in this section will provide tips and helpful resources to help you make an informed decision.

Copyright and Images

  • Use your own images.
  • Find other images that are public domain or include licensing that allows you to edit or reuse them.  Here is a helpful link from Harvard University for finding and using them.
  • Look for images that allow you to pay for using them (least desirable!).

Copyright and Audio

  • Create your own sounds, using free, open-source, cross-platform software like Audacity®.
  • Use freely-available audio files from the Internet.  See the Resources tab in this box for ideas.

Musopen offers royalty free music covering a range of composers, instruments, and periods.

Free Music Archive "is an interactive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads directed by WFMU, the most renowned freeform radio station in America." offers royalty free sound effects.

ccMixter "promotes remix culture and makes samples, remixes, and a cappella tracks licensed under Creative Commons available for download and re-use in creative works." "is a collaborative database of Creative Commons Licensed sounds. Browse, download and share sounds."

This wiki has links to dozens of copyright-friendly music and sound sites, but always check individual licensing notices when using the links provided.


Consider Fair Use Factors- Public Domain

Creative Commons

Copyright and Video

  • Create your own videos with help from Information Technology Services' Media Lab.
  • Find videos that are freely available for use and often re-use as public domain titles or video content licensed by Creative Commons through the Resources Tab in this box.

TED Talks - These short videos include quality multi-disciplinary, multi-interest topics that can be shown according to their copyright and use guidelines on this site.

Moving Image Archive (Internet Archive) - This library contains digital movies uploaded by Archive users which range from classic full-length films, to daily alternative news broadcasts, to cartoons and concerts.These videos are typically in the public domain or are available with Creative Commons reuse rights. Many of the videos are available for free download.

Wikimedia Commons - Videos in Wikimedia Commons are freely licensed and are either available in the public domain or through Creative Commons licensing.

YouTube - Video content on YouTube often provides users with the ability to reuse the content.  After searching for content, filter by Creative Commons to find content that is licensed for re-use.  The publishing information box underneath the video contains the Creative Commons license assigned.

Internet Movie Database (IMDB) - This link provides a list of movies that are available in the public domain, as of 2012.

Public performance rights for screening existing videos are a copyright concern for all members of the university community.  These rights are typically not necessary for in-class, instructional use of any video format, as classroom use of videos usually falls under fair use.

All non-instructional screenings of existing videos that do not occur in a home-use setting REQUIRE public performance rights consideration.  Violation of copyright for public screening of videos constitutes a serious concern for the university. When in doubt, contact for guidance. 

Use of video formats for online courses requires additional consideration as well and does not automatically fall under fair use.  Contact for information on those video applications as well.