Agriculture Communication


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No, You Can't Just Use That Photo

But it's for educational use.

But it's on the Web.

But there's no copyright symbol.

These are just a few of the excuses we hear for NDSU faculty and staff breaking federal copyright laws related to photographs and other graphics.

Though written materials are trickier to evaluate under copyright laws because of fair-use standards, photos and similar graphics are pretty cut and dried. Somebody took that photo or drew that graphic, and that person owns it. You can't use it unless a statement says you can or you've specifically asked. There are exceptions under the federal TEACH Act for materials that are used in face-to-face classroom teaching or in password-protected systems for specific students, such as Blackboard.

Look for a statement on the website that says under what circumstances you may use their images and information, or look for a Creative Commons license that gives that information. If there's no information, contact the author or publisher and get in writing (email is fine) that you may use the graphic.

See the Ag Communication website under Photos & Illustrations for a list of photos resources that may be used in your printed materials, on websites and in other resources.

Becky Koch, (701) 231-7875

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