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Copyright Permission: Images

This guide lists and links to organizations that manage copyright permissions.

Whom to contact

For images, you must contact the copyright owner directly. There are no rights management organizations for images, and the Copyright Clearance Center has only recently started adding image content to their database.

The web is a rich source of image content, but unfortunately a lot of it is unattributed and has no copyright information. Some images may even be posted by someone who wrongfully claims to own the copyright.

Your best bet is to search for images from databases and online collections that have contact information copyright holders of each image. Museums, libraries, archives, historical societies, research foundations, government agencies, large non-profit organizations, and universities often have good curated image collections with copyright information available. There are also commercial clip art and stock photo collections that make it easy to negotiate a license and pay royalties. 

Note: if you want to use an image from a book or article, go to the Text tab.

Requesting permission and negotiating the license

We recommend contacting by email or phone first to confirm that they are the right person to ask, and to determine whether they wish to proceed by email or land mail. 

If you are using land mail, be sure to enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope, and send it all by Certified Mail so that you can be sure that it arrived.  

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