CAA Code of Best Practices
Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts
CAA's The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts is based on a
consensus of professionals in the visual arts who use copyrighted images, texts,
and other materials in their creative and scholarly work and who, through
discussion groups, identified best practices for using such materials.
Can I use this Image?
It is important to be aware of the laws governing image rights. If you are using images in your art work that are not original, you need to respect other creators' content and the rules about using them. Here are some resources that may help you figure out whether you can use an image or not:
Visual Resources Association Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and Copyright
The Visual Resources Association has produced several sets of guidelines and tools related to images and copyright.
Explanation of Fair Use
What is fair use? It's a confusing concept, but it means that there are exceptions to the rule that you must always have permission from the creator before you can use their work. If you are using it for purposes such as criticism, commentary, or scholarship, it may be okay--but there are exceptions, so reading this is a good idea.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act
Fair use in a digital environment can be even more confusing. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act deals with this and other online copyright-related issues.
Copyright Basics for Artists
This is the Artists' Rights Society's basic explanation of some elements of copyright--what it is, how long it lasts, etc.
Image Databases in the Library
ARTstor This link opens in a new window
Note: You will need to create a personal user account to access Artstor. If you have an existing JSTOR account, you can use that by linking it to Artstor.
Comprehensive database of art images to view, analyze, save for use in presentations. To save/download images you must set up a personal account.
Adam Matthew Explorer This link opens in a new window
Millions of primary source documents from across the world spanning the 15th - 21st centuries.
What is a Creative Commons License?
You may have seen on Flickr or elsewhere, captions that say that an image is protected by the Creative Commons license. Creative Commons is a type of copyright or licensing agreement between the creator of an image and everybody else on the Internet. If you look closely, the Creative Commons license that goes with an image will tell you exactly what you can and can't do with an image. There are four basic qualifications:
- Attribution: If the image says this or has a little person icon next to it, that means you can use the image if and only if you give credit to the original creator.
- Noncommercial: If the image says this or has a little dollar-sign-with-a-slash icon, you can use the image but you may not sell it or use it in any commercial way.
- No Derivative Works: If the image says this or has a little equals sign icon, you can use the image but you may not alter, modify, or change it in any way.
- Share Alike: If the image says this or has a little circular arrow icon, you can distribute derivative works of the image but only under the terms of the original licensing agreement. E.g. if the original image was Attribution + Noncommercial (by-nc), you must distribute your version as Attribution + Noncommercial.
These four factors can be combined in various ways. You can look at the official website of the Creative Commons to find out more about this.