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Copyright for Media Projects: Home

Using Copyrighted Materials in Academic and Creative Work

Using copyrighted material should not be a substitute for creative effort. Your goal should be to understand and demonstrate how the use of a copyrighted work repurposes or transforms the original. For example, you may use copyrighted music for a variety of purposes, but cannot rely on fair use when the goal is simply to establish a mood or convey an emotional tone, or when they employ popular songs simply to exploit their appeal and popularity.

Use language, images, sound, music, and digital media to express and share meaning with an emphasis on transformative uses such as comment and criticism, illustration, stimulating public discussion, or preserving an event or phenomenon.

The Fair Use Evaluator is a tool that can help guide you through the process of making a reasonable fair use determination.

Free/Open Source/Creative Commons Resources

Flickr (filter to show only CC images)
Celtx: Free Scriptwriting and Production Studios
Advanced Media Institute Tutorials (UC Berkeley)
No Film School

Art Collections

Museums may allow you to search some or all of their collections. Image sizes and extent of description will vary from museum to museum. Search for museum websites and evaluate to determine if they provide searchable collections online or virtual exhibits. A website that compiles museum links is: Below are selected museums with extensive online collections.

Art UK
Collection of 200,000+ oil paintings from local and national museum collections in the United Kingdom. The site is a joint initiative between the BBC, the Public Catalogue Foundation, and participating museums and collections.

British Museum
Use Search box or Advanced Search options, limit to objects with images online.

Europeana Art
Getty Open Content Program
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Contains 76,000+ works from the MoMA, all available online and enhanced search filters.

National Gallery, London
Use search box or other options available

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

Use search boxes to "Search the Collection"


One of the world’s leading museums in Amsterdam has a ground-breaking new online presentation of 125,000 works in its collection.


Smithsonian Institution
Search over 13.3 million records of museum objects, archives and library materials including more than 2.5 million online media files.

Tate Modern
A high-quality collection of images that have been tagged with descriptive qualities like "hope," "nature," or death." Find an individual artwork and scroll down to EXPLORE at the bottom of the record to find links to other images, concepts or topic

Access & Troubleshooting

Having problems accessing resources?
See our Online Access page for help.

Content based image searches

Reverse image searching allows you to upload an image and retrieve other similar images. Use this technique to: 

  • Locate the source of an image
  • Find higher resolution versions
  • Discover webpages where the image appears
  • Track down the content creator
  • Get information about an image

There are many systems that offer this service; here are two good ones:


Google Images