When working on a course project or assignment, you may choose to incorporate copyrighted works into your project in some way, shape or form. In such cases, either the use of this content must be allowable under fair use or another appropriate exemption, or permission must be granted to use the material.

Choosing materials for projects and assignments

What and how much can be used is determined by where the assignment ends up. Students have certain rights to re-use and/or re-purpose print and multimedia works for use in educational projects. These rights, however, change based on the delivery mode of your project. When your audience is a professor and your fellow classmate, you are granted more rights to use copyrighted materials than when the project is published in a public format, such as on a Web page, Facebook, YouTube, or other public venue.

Before placing your project on a public platform, you must make sure that you either (1) have permission to do so, or (2) have done a fair use analysis and the portion you’d like to use in reasonable, concise, for educational purposes, and only enough to make your point.

Regardless of whether or not permission is needed, attribution is a must. Even if you have permission to use materials, you must still credit the creator or copyright owner.

Some sites will provide instructions on proper use and information on how to appropriately attribute items located on its site. Look for a link on a website or database called "Terms of Use" or something similar.

For example, the CDC posts its policy here

    Image Reuse Terms and Conditions

    Most images found in the Public Health Image Library (PHIL) are royalty-free and available for personal, professional and educational use in electronic or print media, with appropriate citation. Please credit CDC and the individual photographer if his/her name is given. If used in electronic media, please link back to the PHIL Site
    Images other than those in the PHIL may have been licensed for use by CDC from a stock photography service or other copyright holder and the license holder may prohibit republication, retransmission, reproduction or other use of the images. Please contact us Contact us with any other questions about reuse of specific images.

Fair use guidelines for student projects

  • Written Materials - newspapers, books, magazines, CD-ROM, computer files, etc.- Up to 10% of the total or 1,000 words, whichever is less
  • Poems
    • An entire poem of less than 250 words may be used
    • No more than 3 poems by one poet
    • No more than 5 poems by different authors in an anthology
  • Illustrations or Photographs
    • No more than 5 images from one artist or photographer
    • Up to 10% or 15 works, whichever is less, from a collection
  • Music - CDs, audiotape, computer files
    • Up to 10% of the work but no more than 30 seconds
  • Motion media - video, TV or radio broadcast, DVD, CD-ROM, computer files
    • Up to 10% of the total or 3 minutes, whichever is less
  • Database or Spreadsheet
    • Up to 10% or 2500 fields or cell entries, whichever is less

Resources made for educational use

Seek out copyright-free resources or materials designed to use for educational purposes, or for materials where a license can be obtained for use in a creative project. For example:

  • Creative Commons
    Anything with a Creative Commons sharing license carries permissions that would allow use for work to be displayed in this class. Some allow MORE uses, so if all your images are CC licensed with an appropriate license, you could distribute them online since permissions are granted. Note they all do require ATTRIBUTION for any type of use.
  • Wikimedia Commons
    Contribute, share, use. Images and other media files. "Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository making available public domain and freely-licensed educational media content (images, sound and video clips) to everyone. "
  • Google and Yahoo have image searches. Flickr is also a good site for user contributed images. These can be searched with or without a
    limiter for CC licenses. Be careful: not all the images on these sites carry sharing licenses!

Getting Permission

When you need to get permission

  • If you intend to publish another person's photographs, logos, graphics, etc. on your web site.
  • If you intend to use the project for commercial or non-educational purposes.
  • If you want to use more of a copyrighted work than "fair use" allows.
  • When you intend to duplicate the project with more than two copies.
  • If your project may have a broader use at a later time.
  • If you want to change the format, alter the presentation or modify the content.

How to get permission
Write or e-mail the copyright holder, publisher, or other obvious source. Include the information below and note specifically what you want permission to copy, use, and what you plan to do with it.

  • Title
  • Author(s)
  • Copyright year
  • Medium/format to be duplicated
  • Number of copies
  • Manner of distribution
  • Type of reproduction
  • Length of retention
  • Purpose/use of the reproduction
  • Contact information, address, e-mail, or fax number


To learn more contact us now!

The Drexel Library
Faculty Learning Lounge, Suite 160

Permission to Use Materials

Academic Technology and Distributed Learning (ATDL) welcomes the use of materials on this Site for personal, non-commercial use. Prior to using the materials, however, we ask that you notify ATDL of your intended use, and provide the appropriate credit line with materials to be used.