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Critical Writing: Netflix Nations Fall 2021: Using Images in Your Writing

Finding Images and incorporating images into your paper

Images, tables, and figures are often protected by copyright law. It is not sufficient to cite them; in many cases, you must get permission from the publisher or author before using them in your work. The data contained in a table or graph can be used and cited; generally it is the design and layout of the image that is protected.  In all cases, you must provide citation and attribution just as you would for a quotation or paraphrase, noting the creator, title, and the source of the image (this might be a link to an individual's site, to a museum, or to the Libraries' Artstor collections). Often, if you are finding your image online, the provider will provide guidance as to how they want the work cited. Explore the resources listed below to identify images useful to your chosen topic. For more information, refer to your Canvas course site in the White Paper Tab on Using visual images, where you will also find links to images and tables in the public domain. 


The Artstor Digital Library features multidisciplinary content from some of the world’s top museums, artists, libraries, scholars, and photo archives, including rare collections not accessible anywhere else. Approximately 300 collections provide access to more than 2.5 million images, scholars can examine wide-ranging material such as Native American art from the Smithsonian, treasures from the Louvre, and panoramic, 360-degree views of the Hagia Sophia in a single resource.  

The Penn Libraries also includes some of its own images in the collection. Artstor provides full citation information (metadata) so that you can properly cite any images that you use in your papers.   

Creative Commons Flikr

Creative Commons Flikr is the subset of the Flikr photography site that makes available the photographic work of photographers who have chosen to make their works available for use by the public through a Creative Commons license. These works are still protected by copyright, but the photographer specific guidance on how their works can be used so that you don't have to ask permission. In all cases, citation is a must. You can link back to the site and note the license information. Take a look at this example. You'll see the statement "some rights reserved." This links back to the Creative Commons license

Additional Penn Content

General Image Search Engines

Compfight - Image search engine that locates high-resolution images with Creative Commons licenses for use in presentations, blogs, etc. Also retrieves stock photos.
Fotolia - Fotolia is a world-leading image bank, providing instant access to over 42 million images, vectors, illustrations and video clips. It is powered by a diverse international community of artists, graphic designers and agencies who bring you tens of thousands of new and unique images, illustrations and videos every single day.
Google Image Search - Tip: Use advanced search or facets to limit by image size, images within a domain/site (e.g. site:, and usage rights.

PicSearch -  An image search service with more than 3,000,000,000 pictures

TinEye Reverse Image Search - Submit an image to TinEye to find out where it came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, or to find higher resolution versions.

Unsplash - Free high-resolution photos.10 new photos will be sent to your email address every 10 days if you subscribe.

For more information ...

Boxes on this page were copied from the Penn Libraries guide for Finding images, developed by Patty Guardiola, Director of the Fisher Fine Arts Library. Please visit the full page for more information on working with images. 

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