I teach at a school and I create PowerPoint presentations to use in my classroom. I also need to upload the PowerPoints to my school website for my students to access. Access is restricted and students must sign in with their school codes. Can I use images I find on Google search? Are all images copyrighted? If they do not have an "ownership" stamp on them, are they ok to use in this manner? Nothing is being sold and the presentations are taken down at the end of each year.

  • Could you please provide the country where you teach? Copyright laws might differ by country in this point. Jan 27 '17 at 20:37
  • Google image search will let you search for freely usable images, just click tools to get to the option.
    – A.G.
    Jan 27 '17 at 21:17
  • This is a tough one. I can see international copyright issues left and right if you do not get permission from the copyright holder of each image. As the institution will be in effect making money indirectly from your course material, finding as much information you can will be in your best interest. If your institution has a law program, maybe they have some good insight? Jan 27 '17 at 23:50
  • What type of institution do you teach at, and what country? This information is sort of (/sarcasm) important when it comes to accurate advice/information/looking up legal information Jan 28 '17 at 3:47

Images found in Google search don't belong to Google.

I can't speak to fair-use under academia, but I can say images aren't fair game just because they're found on Google images

There are, however, places you can find images you can use. Wikimedia has a ton of images that can be used, with a wide variety of licenses for re-use. Flickr is another that comes to mind.

I want to reiterate that I don't know fair use under the realm of academia, but would ask permission and highly recommend captioning photos in order to give credit where it's due.

  • Giving credit is one thing, but it is not the same as attaining permission for use. Jan 28 '17 at 0:27

You ask a really good question. Many people download images from websites without even thinking about whether they can consume it. Now if you properly credit/cite your source, then you avoid being called a plagiarist at your school. However, you're not in the clear with the owner of that image. Basically, you need to find out what the author/artist requires. Some say you only need to credit and provide a link back. Others might not say anything, which in that you need to get permission. Crediting is not enough. My suggestion is when you do an image search, add the term "public domain" or similar. Or... I know this is not what you want hear, but actually purchase image bundles that clearly says unrestricted use. If you find images that have no clear author or owner, I would not use them. Those might be stolen. Or you can go to stock photo sites and buy images. That's what I do, by the way. You get unlimited and unrestricted (mostly) use. You'll sleep better at night knowing that the image police won't track you down someday.


You should not just use any image you come across online. In general you do not have permission. If in doubt, you do not have permission to use the image. Copyright is basically automatic, with more permissive choices needing to be actively labelled. However, you can limit a google image search to images with certain permission.

Another aspect to consider is 'fair use'. As an educator, roughly speaking you can make use of materials for the purpose of teaching a specific point. That is, use for learning purposes is probably acceptable (subject to details). Use of images that are purely for aesthetic purposes is not.


It doesn't really matter, but if you're worried just caption the pictures with a relevant credit and/or copyright notice.

  • @NZKshatriya I agree with you, mostly. What I slightly disagree with is the blanket statement that an institution makes money out of this; this is pretty much US-centric thinking, there are countries where this is not the case (despite many people try to push this model). This does not mean that copyright holders should not be compensated, but then the question is whether pure in-classroom use without distribution would not fall under the equivalent of "fair use" in the particular country. Jan 28 '17 at 3:25
  • @NZKshatriya Then the argument should make a difference between schools that earn money and schools that don't. And, BTW, many software packages make exactly this distinction ("...free for non-commercial purposes..."). So, the decision must be more fine-grained (certainly more fine-grained than the present response). Jan 28 '17 at 3:50
  • 1
    I cannot with good conscience ignore this. It doesn't really matter just caption it is not just bad advice, it is more than likely the worst advice I have seen given due to the complexities of international copyright law not even being brought up. Just because someone captions something, does not mean that permissions for use have been given. Remember, an institution may be making money, albeit indirectly Say an institution charges fees per course/credit hour. If a student takes said course with OPs material, this is where the indirect charging for access comes from. Jan 28 '17 at 3:55
  • 1
    @CaptainEmacs And fixed see above Also, I believe he is talking about images found online, not shareware/freeware or software distributed under the GNU framework (aka open source) Jan 28 '17 at 3:55

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.