Find and use images, videos, and audio

When developing projects and assignments, you may encounter a need to use images, videos, and other types of media files. This guide will provide you with information on how to use these resources appropriately, respecting copyright law and academic traditions of attribution. We will also provide you with links to useful resources to find media to use.

Copyright and you

In Canada, when a person creates a work – such as an image, video, or audio file – copyright is automatically applied to the work. Copyright gives the creator rights over if and how others can use copies of the creative works. Unless it is explicitly mentioned, you must assume that all images, videos, and audio files are under copyright, even if it has been shared on the internet.

What media can I use?
An example of a Creative
Commons license icon

Some creators choose to share their work for others to use openly. Look for an explicit declaration or copyright license that states that the material can be used by others. A common copyright license that you will encounter is the Creative Commons license, which many creators use to grant permission to other people. Some creators choose to waive all their copyright rights to their content by putting it into the public domain.

In addition to content that has been shared openly, students and researchers may use copyrighted content without permission in certain limited situations under Fair Dealing.

For use to be considered fair, you must:
  • Provide attribution or citation to the work
  • Be using the work for one of the following purposes: research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review, or news reporting
  • Determine whether the use meets the six factors: purpose, character, amount, alternative, nature, effect

Give attribution

In all instances, you should give attribution or credit to the content creator when you re-use their works. Typically you should include the name of the creator and the source of content. Please refer to your specific style guide for formatting. 
This guide has been adapted from the Find Media guide from College Libraries Ontario (CLO). We thank the people at CLO for their excellent work in developing this information.
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