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Often instructors are looking for images to use in their courses because images can liven up the course and help students understand the course material.

A picture is worth a thousand words, but it might also be worth a thousand dollars if your school gets hit with a copyright violation claim. —Eric Curts

There are many high quality pictures that can be used without any licensing concerns. These can include images that are released under creative commons, or are in the public domain, or simply are copyright-free.

Eric Curts compiled a list of free image sites and tools for schools that you may find helpful in your search for free images.

free image sites for schools

Two sites I use often that didn't make Curt's list are Creative Commons (CC) Search and the Noun Project.

Are you looking for images of diverse people? This curated list of image collections featuring diverse people by Online Network of Educators may be of interest to you.

black students working on laptop computer

Images have the power to enhance your message or story, they can also become a big distraction when used improperly. Check out this Mistakes to Avoid When Using Photos in eLearning blog post for some common mistakes.

Additionally, you may find an image you want to use, but you would like to make changes to it. You can find free photo and image editing tools in this eLearning Industry blog post by Christopher Pappas. Just make sure the image copyright gives you permission to modify the image.

If you are looking for information on copyright and Creative Commons, our Creative Commons (CC) Wiki Resource has information about CC licenses and CC licensed works that may help.

Image credits:
Image by Eric Curts is licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0
Photo by Nappy Studio from


by Janice Florent

Finding quality images, audio, video, etc. to use in your Blackboard course is one of the most important and potentially daunting aspects of developing your course. There are certain legal rights for digital content. You cannot, for example, just pull an image off of a Google image search and use it. There are some important things you should understand about digital copyrights before you use an image or other digital content that you did not create on your own.

copyright vs copyleft vs creative commons

Copyright is all about balancing the rights of authors with the rights of the public to use the work without seeking permission or paying royalties. Under copyright, authors have the right to control the use of their work subject to exceptions permitted under the law. If the use exceeds such exceptions, then infringing on someone's copyright can result in the infringer paying money damages (civil liability) and/or going to prison (criminal liability).

Copyleft (a play on the word copyright) is the practice of offering people the right to freely distribute copies and modified versions of a work with the stipulation that the same rights be preserved in derivative works down the line.

Fair use is a limitation and exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the author of a creative work.

Works in the public domain are those whose intellectual property rights have expired, have been forfeited, or are inapplicable.

A Creative Commons (CC) license is a public copyright license that enables the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work.

The image below describes how Creative Commons licenses relates to traditional copyright and the public domain.

copyright spectrum

Here are a few links to resources to help you better understand Creative Commons licenses and copyrights:

Image credits:
copyright, copyleft, and creative commons icons found in public domain
"the spectrum of rights" by Michelle Pacansky-Brock is licensed under CC-BY 2.0


Download Conversation #21

Kenneth Crews

A court ruled last year that at least within limits it was fair use to scan pages from a book and to make those pages available to students in connection with teaching at a university. Now, you're thinking to yourself: But we do that here all the time. And the answer is: I know, it's happening all over the country — and somebody finally got sued. The case is up on appeal.

A conversation with Kenneth Crews of Columbia University, on teaching, learning and copyright.

Links for this episode:

...continue reading "Conversation #21: Kenneth Crews on Copyright"