Images and Copyright

Images are an effective and easy way to make your work more visually appealing and audience-friendly‚ÄĒespecially when your work is online. As such, we strongly recommend adding at least one (ideally two or three) pictures to your essay. Images may directly represent the subject of your paper (e.g. images of artwork under discussion in your paper) to help understand the argument, or may also be for mere illustrative purposes, for topically, thematically, or visually relevant reasons. As a digital publication, we can also accept animated images and embedded video clips, should you desire them (these will be added to the web version, but not the PDF).

Technical Requirements

Any image you wish to include has to be sent to us as a standalone file (jpeg and png formats are usually best), in the largest size possible. If you have already selected images, you may want to do a quick web search to ensure you have used the largest image available. Videos must be sent to us as a link from one of the following hosting sites: YouTube, Vimeo, Animoto, or Wistia.

Same as any borrowed works, images and videos need to be properly cited in MLA format. Though not required in MLA, we also ask that you provide us with a link to the original file on the web where you took the image/video from. For more on how to cite images and videos in MLA, please consult the following resource:


*Please note nothing on this webpage should be construed as legal advice. While we hope to assist you in presenting your work in the best way you want, the onus remains on you to abide by copyright law in your submission.*

With images comes the consideration of copyright. As stated in our Publication Terms and References, which you agreed to when you submitted your essay, you are responsible for ensuring the content of your final submission does not infringe anybody's copyright. As an academic publication we are mindful of being as ethical and respectful of copyright as we can. As you may or may not be familiar with copyright law, what follows is a quick guide to navigating the use of images for your submission. 

Any given image is generally in one of three copyright cases:

  • Public Domain: the work is available for all to use with no rights reserved (generally 50 years after the work is published, or 50 years after the death of the creator)
  • Copyright, Creative Commons: the creator still holds copyright, but has published the image under a Creative Commons license that releases some usage rights
  • Copyright, all rights reserved: the creator reserves all rights for use and copying of the image

For each image you provide, we need to know its copyright status or license, and if you have obtained any special permissions to use copyrighted works.



 Public Domain works can be used freely in our publication. We like to cite them for purposes of enabling other researchers to access our sources, but this is not a legal requirement.

 There are some great banks of public domain images on the web including:



Creative Commons works can be used in our publication, so long as we cite them properly. There are many types of Creative Commons licenses, each with different rights and limitations associated to the use of the work, but they should all be compatible with the QUEUC publication. If you do use Creative Commons images (and we do recommend it, as they may be better quality than Public Domain images, but easier to use than All Right Reserved images), we need the following information for each image:

  • The license it was released under (e.g. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0CC BY 3.0, etc.)
  • Full MLA citation, including creator, publication platform, etc. including link.

Great resources for Creative Commons Images:

For more on Creative Commons, please go to:



Images that have all rights reserved are the trickiest to deal with, and you may wish to avoid using these entirely (though there will be cases where a copyrighted image is appropriate/necessary). Please note that copyright is automatically assigned to the creator when any work is created (i.e. it is the default legal status of an image when it is created). As such, you should assume that any image you find is under full copyright, unless you have explicit evidence that it is in the Public Domain or under a Creative Commons license.

The best practice with copyrighted images is to ask the copyright holder for the right to reproduce the image in your essay. The copyright holder may be the creator of the image, or an organization or institution (such as a museum or a public body), or (often in the case of images taken by a famous artist who has died) the estate of the creator. Should you choose to contact the copyright holder for permission, please obtain consent in writing (this can just be an email) to reproduce the image in our publication. You may wish to specify that we are a non-commercial academic publication using the image for research and criticism purposes. Please note that QUEUC will not pay any expenses to use copyrighted images. Please contact us if you have any questions about obtaining copyright permission from a copyright holder.

We acknowledge that the above may feel like a significant undertaking in the context of this project (especially if you're contacting an organization, or artist's estate). There is, however, a possible alternative to consider. Under the Copyright Act of Canada (sections 29 and 29.1) we may reproduce a copyrighted image without obtaining consent from the copyright holder if that image is used in the context of research and criticism purposes. This is known as "fair dealing." The status of a digital non-commercial self-published undergraduate academic publication is fairly unclear under the law, but in the past we have felt comfortable stating that our project would qualify as a research and criticism purpose, and have published copyrighted images claiming this exemption applies.

There is, however, a limitation to which images we are willing to claim under fair dealing. We will only accept to publish an image under full copyright, with no written permission to reproduce from the copyright holder if the image depicts the subject under criticism in your paper. For example, if your argument is based on criticism of a work of art, or a film, we will accept to republish an image of that artwork, or a still from that film. But we will not accept, for example, to publish a copyrighted portrait of the author of a book under discussion in your paper, if you don't have the proper authorizations. The copyrighted image must directly represent the work under study in your essay, and nothing more. This is the only instance of fair dealing we feel comfortable claiming. Please note that even in this case, you as the author of the paper would still the liable for any copyright infringement claim that may arise out of using the image.

Our best advice is to obtain permission or forgo using copyrighted images entirely. We will however, accept the exception noted above.


Despite the additional responsibilities it entails to respect copyright law, we do hope you will provide images with your essay, as this enhances the appeal of your paper and of the overall publication. Please feel free to contact me directly at with any questions relating to image use and copyright.