Copyright for teaching at VU: Images

Key points

Copyright law gives the copyright owner of photos, pictures or illustrations, and paintings the rights to control:

  • reproduction,
  • publication,
  • communication,
  • performance, and
  • adaptation of their work.

Under the Copyright Act there are a number of circumstances in which reproduction of a limited or reasonable amount of work is permitted for educational purposes without seeking permission or payment. 

At VU we have a licence which allows VU staff members to copy and communicate such material for certain educational purposes. However this does not mean that anything and everything can be copied or put online for educational purposes.

When reproducing images on VU Collaborate you are covered by the Statutory Licence called s.113P, and this allows you to copy images for your classroom or teaching purposes with proper attribution.


Moral rights: acknowledging images or artistic works

Under the Moral Rights law we are obliged to acknowledge the author or creator of a work.  You are not required to use a particular style unless the owner specifies a particular way in which case you should follow their request.

For artistic works the following information should be included (where possible):

  • Name of the creator (there may be more than one person involved in the work)
  • Title of the work
  • Date it was created
  • If the work is part of a collection include the name of the collection
  • If the work was originally sourced from another publication or site give details
  • Give the name or website or URL and date the image was accessed (if using an image sourced from website)
  • Licensing or copyright information - source, owner and creator may be different.  Include a link to Creative Commons, or other licence if used.

Give as much information as possible and you may indicate where information is unknown.  For example 'Photographer unknown' or 'date unknown'.

The acknowledgement should be clear and placed as close as possible to the actual work but if this is not appropriate then add to a bibliography or a special credits section.

Attributing images

For more detailed information on Attribution see the 'Factsheet for using images' located on the VU Library Intranet site.

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Using images for teaching

In this section you will find information about using images for teaching at VU.

What are images?

For copyright purposes "images" are "artistic works" which can include works such as:

  • A diagram or technical drawing
  • A chart, map, table or plan (which may be part of a publication)
  • A painting, sculpture, drawing, engraving or photograph
  • A building or model of a building
  • Craft work
  • A Cartoon

What you can do

1.    On VU Collaborate

  • You can use images freely if they are out of copyright. (Check with the Copyright Officer if you are unsure about copyright status).
  • You can search for images available under an Open Access or Creative Commons licence.  
    • An open access image can be used for any purpose, including purely decorative.
    • If you use Creative Commons images check the licence to make sure you are allowed to use the image in the way that you require; for example for commercial use, sharing, modifying or adapting. (See information on Creative Commons licences elsewhere in this guide).
  • If you cannot find an Open Access (or Creative Commons) image then using images under the Education Statutory Licence or s.113P exception is allowed with some limitations:
    • Images cannot be used just for decoration, they must be actively used for teaching and learning.
    • If you wish to change or adapt an image you must have permission from the copyright owner, (adaptation is not covered by the Statutory Licence).
  • Regardless of source, you must attribute your images on VU Collaborate and keep a record of your image use on a separate spreadsheet.

2.    For PowerPoint (and other) Presentations

  • The same advice as for images on VU Collaborate (above) applies here.
  • When using images in presentation slides these must be attributed either alongside the images on the slides or on a separate reference section on your unit site. It is advisable to also document image use on a separate spreadsheet.
  • Many textbook publishers now allow you to use teaching resources, such as PowerPoint slides accompanying their textbooks, after you login to their teacher’s site and agree to the terms and conditions by clicking in the correct box. Please check the publisher’s site to see if this is a function they provide as it means you don’t need to ask for permission separately.
    • If you do use these publisher resources it will be your responsibility to make sure you understand and comply with the stated terms and conditions.

3.    Images from online sources

  • Images on the internet are covered by copyright unless stated otherwise.
  • If you find an image online on a website, blog or social media site it can be used for teaching purposes (as per the Statutory Licence, s. 113P), but it is preferred for you to use images from open access sources.
  • Search for Creative Commons sources wherever possible (see 'Creative Commons' page of this Guide for information on this).
  • Always check the terms and conditions on the website.
  • Always attribute images and keep a record of images used.

4.    From textbooks

  • Images from textbooks are covered by copyright so may be used under the Statutory Licence (s. 113P), but must be attributed and cannot be adapted or changed without permission.
  • Keep clear records of images used.

You can also use images that are owned by Victoria University, or where you have permission from the copyright holder. In both cases give attributions, including permission statements where necessary. Keep clear records of your image uses.

What you can't do


  • Copy an image without having a Copyright Notice on your site.
  • Use an image without attribution
  • Use an image for decorative or 'for interest' purposes under the Statutory licence, make sure to use Creative Commons or Copyright-free images

A note on Google Images

Although Google Images makes it easy to find and copy/download images from the Internet, this material is very often protected by copyright and cannot be used unless the use is covered by s.113P, or you have permission from the copyright holder.  Always view the image on its source page and check carefully for copyright &/or Terms & Conditions statements on the site before using. Always attribute.  It is strongly recommended to use images released under an appropriate Creative Commons licence where possible. Use the Tools in Google Images to find images labeled for reuse.