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Need to use an image for your assignments, research papers or design, but not sure if you can really use it due to copyright? We understand the complexity in understanding copyright and here are two quick tools, developed by  by the Visual Resource Association (VRA), to help you make informed decisions on using image for educational purposes. 


Digital Image Rights Computator (DIRC)

DIRC is a web program specially created to assist users in accessing the different layers of rights affecting the use of images for educational purposes. The program prompt you to answer a series of multiple-choice questions pertaining to a particular image that you are accessing. The questions will tough on the following variables:

  1. The copyright status of the underlying work represented in the image.
  2. The copyright status of the photographic reproduction.
  3. The specific source from which you have obtained the image under consideration.
  4. Any terms of use or contract that may govern the uses of this image.
  5. The intended use(s) of this image.
Sample IP Status Grid of DIRC

Sample IP Status Grid of DIRC

After answering the questions, you will be presented with a colour-coded grid, which indicates an image’s suitability for your desired use. Check out their instructions and definitions to find out more.


Copy Photography Computator

DIRC also developed a similar tool to access the layers of rights for copy reproduction of an image for educational purposes, that is defined by VRA as “surrogate image, the purpose of which is to record the physical appearance of an underlying work“. 


Related resource

For a list of open access image sources, you may refer to the List of Open Access Images.