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Copyright and Image Use in the Artstor Digital Library: Sources of images in Artstor

This LibGuide outlines the safe ways to use images from the Artstor Digital Library according to their Terms and Conditions of Use, how to identify the sources of images you are working with, and how to find and use images for publications.

Sources of images in Artstor: an overview

The Artstor Digital Library's content is contributed by museums, artists or their estates, special collections, universities and archives. After receiving images from a contributor, Artstor performs legal diligence on the collection. Whenever possible, they clear the rights to the images for Artstor Digital Library distribution purposes. These rights-cleared images are made available to all Artstor Digital Library subscribers worldwide. 

Where Artstor can’t clear rights--either because they can’t find the rights holder or it’s otherwise not feasible--they make the images available only in the United States, based on the United States legal concept of Fair Use*. As long as the Artstor Digital Library images are used in a way that’s consistent with the Permitted Uses in our Terms and Conditions, Artstor will protect and indemnify you, the user, if you ever run into an issue.

However, there are many images in Artstor that come from different sources, such as WSA's collections and public collections made available via JSTOR Forum. Because of the varied sources of images in Artstor, it is important to understand where the image or images you are working with came from and how you are allowed to use them. Select a source and learn more about how you can identify and use these images:

  • Artstor Digital Library collections
  • Institutional collections
  • Public collections

*.Fair Use:  Conditions under which copying a work, or a portion of it, does not constitute infringement of copyright, including copying for purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. (Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science (ODLIS), by Joan M. Reitz,  © 2004-2014, ABC-CLIO.

U.S. Copyright Act: Fair Use


Title 17. Chapter 1. Section 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.


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