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Copyright and Intellectual Property: Images and media

Copyright and Intellectual property information for teaching and research

Images, AV materials and Social Media


If you need to use audio or video material for teaching and learning, copyright law affects you.

From a copyright infringement perspective, it is lower risk to post a link to a video, e.g. on than to embed or download it into your own content. Do check that it is released under a Creative Commons licence or that you have permission to use it.


The CLA licence does not cover the photocopying of maps. Library Services subscribes to the Digimap service under which copying and downloading of certain Ordnance Survey material is permissible. For access to Digimap please go to the A-Z list of databases.


Using Images in your teaching or research materials can make them more attractive to read and clearer to understand. However it is not ok to use images, even if openly available on the Internet, without checking if it is legal to do so.

Can I usethis image?

There are some very litigious rightsholders out there, and It is often very hard to track down ownership.

"Orphan " items are ones where the rightsholders are not known. The EU is trying to make these items available for use under Directive 2012/28/EU and more information can be found here

Best practice would advise you to:

  • create your own images/take your own photos
  • use images already licensed for re-use (see below)

Films in lectures

A film or broadcast may be played in lectures to an audience of staff, students and others directly connected with the University for the purposes of instruction only. However this does not cover recreational or promotional activities, e.g. a general film club or during open days. Any non-instructional playing of films would need to be covered by a licence from companies like Filmbank.

Some sources of copyright free images

National Institute of Health Image Gallery

National Cancer Institute Visuals Online

Centers for Disease control and prevention

Flickr – advanced search, cc licensed

Geograph –  photos of Britain and Ireland

Google Image -  enter search term, then  click on search tools under the search box, and choose usage rights

VADS - visual arts images

Wikimedia Commons - A repository of public domain and freely-licensed educational media content from the Wikimedia Foundation

ERA /Off air recordings

Aston has an Educational Recording Agency (ERA)  licence allowing for educational use of copyright protected material. This allows the following non-commercial activities:

  • Recording from broadcasts made in the UK of the works and performances owned or represented by ERA members. Recordings may be made by or on behalf of an educational establishment.
  • Electronic communication of licensed recordings within an educational establishment.

For help and advice, please contact Jeremy Batt ( Associate IT Director - Applications)

Social media

Using extracts from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites can be a copyright minefield. Check the web sites carefully for information and get permission where possible so it doesn't blow up in your face!