Many image services such as Flickr, Photobucket, Imageshack, Twitpic, host Creative Commons-licensed images. These sites may also contain images that could potentially be in breach of copyright.

On example is a photograph of an an artwork, which is a copyrighted work, such as an image of a painting from an art exhibition or an object from a museum. Even though a photographer has offer their photographs under a Creative Commons license, you must ensure they do not infringe copyright of the creator of the work captured in the photograph before you use the image. If in doubt, contact the photographer to find out if they have obtained permission to photograph the artistic work.

Using images

Using images in presentations

The Copyright Act (1968) allows students and researchers to show or present images in a class to a closed or limited audience. A limited or closed audience would be defined as other student’s or class members, presentation as part of examination/assessment, and GRC presentations. This provision does not allow copyright works used in presentations to be recorded, copied, placed online, or shown as part of public activity.

Adapting, changing or modifying an image by 10%

There is no 10% adaption rule for images, text or audio visual copyright works. The only instance where permission would not be required is where a new work:

  • is based on the concepts of the first work, and
  • is substantially different from the first work.

The moral right of integrity is an important consideration. If you modify an existing work to a point where a copyright holder feels the modification has affected the integrity of their work, damaging their reputation and honour, they can bring an infringement accusation against you under the right of integrity.

Creating mashups and collages

Mashups or collage creations incorporating copyrighted images need to be assessed against ownership rights and copyright exceptions, such as fair dealing – research and study.  You can create mashups or collages under the fair dealing provision - research and study, but only while you are studying.

To create a mashup or collage from works protected by copyright, you must ask the copyright holder for permission. If you create a collage or mashup from a substantial part of an existing work, you may be in breach of copyright.

The safest option is to create mashups and collages from works where copyright has expired, or from Creative Commons-licensed works.

Online, MyRMIT, blogs, wikis

The fair dealing provisions allow the use of copyright works at RMIT for assessment tasks such as blogs, wikis and e-portfolios hosted behind authentication [a password is required for access eg: myRMIT].

The fair dealing provisions do not apply to public sites such as, Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. The fair dealing provisions are closed provisions and only available whilst undertaking a course of study, or research.

Copyright works used online within RMIT such as blogs, wiki’s and e-Portfolio’s can only remain online whilst enrolled if you are no longer enrolled in the course the works must be removed. Therefore, the responsibility for managing the use either falls with you the student whereby you must remove all copyright works uploaded, or alternatively the staff member assumes the responsibility and undertakes to remove all of the copyright works on your behalf.

Image sources

Google Images

Google displays both free and copyright images it found on websites. Before using an image you've found using Google, check the copyright statement or terms and conditions of the website to find out if there are any restrictions on the use of that image. The safes option is to search Google for images that you can use freely,such as Creative Commons images.

How to search for creative commons images using Google

Social media, YouTube, Flickr, Yammer, Facebook, blogs and wikis

Externally hosted public sites, such as Flickr, Twitter, Yammer, or blogs and wikis contain terms of use that you are required to agree to in order to set up an account. Read carefully the terms and conditions on the site. Once you accept the terms of use, you are bound by these conditions.

You can use Creative Commons, or free images on social networking sites. You should not use Creative Commons non-commercial licensed images. Obtaining revenue from advertising would be considered a commercial undertaking.

Find Creative Commons images

Fair dealing explained

About fair dealing and fair use

Fair dealing allows the use of copyright works by students for research and study purposes only. The fair dealing provisions do not allow posting to public sites such as Blogger, Issuu or other open publishing platforms. The fair use terminology is an American provision for using copyright works and does not apply in Australia.

The fair dealing provisions are closed provisions, which means they only apply during a course of study or research. Unlike Creative Commons or free licensed works, copyright works can only be kept on RMIT's online platforms, such as Canvas or blogs, while you are studying. Once you finish your studies, you must delete any copyrighted articles you have downloaded.

The fair dealing provisions rely on you to be genuine in an act of fair dealing. Use other people's work only for research and study, or criticism and review purposes.

For research or study

When you are undertaking a course of instruction or personal private research.

This provision allows students and researchers to rely on using a reasonable portion of copyright works as part of their research or study. Showing works to others as part of a public event, exhibition or competition is not covered by fair dealing and will require the permission of the copyright holder.

For criticism or review

When you are undertaking a legitimate task that involves criticising or reviewing a copyrighted work.

For example using an image of a a contemporary painting where a copy the work is used as part of the overall act of reviewing or criticising the work. This would more than likely be considered a legitimate use of a work in reliance on fair dealing, as the act of reviewing or criticising is a genuine act. An act of forming an opinion on the work – the painting.

For parody and satire

Copyright holders don’t usually licence criticism of their works, such as an adaption/mashup, that could cast them and the brand in a bad light. If you intend to use a copyrighted work for the purpose of parody or satire, it must be a legitimate use that transforms the original work into a work that is either satirical or humorous. There are important considerations you must make:

  • are you planning to use a substantial amount of the existing work?
  • is your usage of this work likely to interfere with its existing or potential market?
  • is what you are planning to use an important part of the work?
  • and in using that part, would your work compete in the market place with the original work?

If a substantial amount of the original work has been used, and the part used was an important part of the original work, and the use could have been licensed within the existing market, then the use would most probably be considered unfair and a breach of fair dealing/copyright law.

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