How to Get Permission to Use Images

By Nicole Thomas

Getting permission to use images is usually required for those working on research papers, photo manipulations and web design. Some images are public domain or come with a creative commons license. For these images, permission isn’t required. However, for those new to using images in their own content, it is best to find the owner of the image and gain permission to use it. The main reason you’ll want to get permission is to avoid any kind of copyright infringement. Before using an image for a project, you’ll want to look up who owns the rights to that image.

Find out whether the image in question is protected by copyright laws or whether it’s public domain. For example, an image that was created before 1923 is within the public domain, meaning anyone can use it. Pieces created after 1989 won’t enter the public domain for 70 years after the original artist is deceased. As for any work that was published between 1923 and 1989, the copyright all comes down to how it was handled. For example, a piece that was published without a copyright notice is considered to be in the public domain.

Identify the copyright holder. For example, if the image is a piece of work on the cover of a book or magazine, chances are the publisher owns the rights. Check with a publisher first. If he turns out to be the incorrect contact, he should be able to point you in the right direction because he likely purchased the work from the original artist at one point in time.

Mail a written request to the individual or individuals who own the rights to the image. If you’re on a deadline, make sure to give yourself enough time to get the written form back. You’ll want the form signed by yourself and the artist or publisher before using the image. Check publisher websites, which sometimes have permission forms you can fill out online.

Respect the copyright holder’s wishes if he doesn’t give you permission to use his image at this time. If you cannot locate the right party, you might want to look for a similar image. Remember, unless the image is in the public domain, you must have permission from the copyright holder before using the image.

About the Author

Nicole Thomas started writing professionally in 2010. She writes for various websites, specializing in topics about marketing, branding and HTML coding. She studied early childhood education at Bucks County Community College.