Skip to Main Content

Copyright at JMU

A guide to copyright at James Madison University


The TEACH Act allows for the use of copyrighted images within a learning management system (in JMU's case, Canvas), replicating the use of images in the online classroom in the same way that they might be used in the face-to-face classroom environment. Care must be taken, however, when using images openly on the web.

An excellent practice to adopt is to properly investigate image licensing before reusing an image.

The above photograph is a waterfront scene of Liverpool, England. It has been licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons ("CC") 2.0 license. Clicking the link to the CC BY-SA 2.0 license tells the user that the image can be reused, redistributed, and even adapted, subject to the following conditions:

  • Attribution
  • "ShareAlike" redistribution - a derivative work, which remixes, transforms, or builds upon the original image, can only be distributed under the same license attached to original image.

A good way to find CC licensed images is to use Wikimedia Commons. Another effective way to search for CC licensed images is to use the search capabilities in Google Images, employing the following method:

  1. Open Google Images
  2. In the bottom right-hand corner of the Google Images main page, click "Settings" > "Advanced Search"
  3. Change the very bottom drop-down box ("Usage rights") to your preferred license: free to use or share / free to use or share even commercially / free to use, share, or modify / free to use, share, or modify even commercially
  4. Enter image search terms and run your search
  5. Before reusing the image, check the licensing information to ensure it matches your intended use, and be sure to comply with the license's requirements in your reuse of the image


A good way to avoid problems when using copyrighted media (for example, films or music) is to link to JMU licensed resources, such as streaming media available through Films on Demand. The JMU Library Catalog is the most efficient way to search for JMU media holdings. If JMU does not currently have access to media you require, please contact your Liaison Librarian for assistance.

When choosing to link to media hosted at external sites, such as YouTube or Daily Motion, it is important to investigate whether that media has been uploaded by the copyright holder or with the copyright holder's express permission. Avoid linking to media that has been uploaded unlawfully, infringing upon its copyright holder's rights. Additionally, please be aware that many uploaders provide vague assertions that the media has been reproduced in compliance with the Doctrine of Fair Use. Frequently, these are nebulous statements that have no founding in legal reality.

Free Media for Creative Use is a resources guide hosted by JMU Libraries. It provides access to audio/music, image, and video resources that are openly available, or are licensed for use by JMU faculty, staff, and students.

Students in JMU's School of Music with questions about performance rights are encouraged to raise these questions with their professor in the first instance, and/or contact the Copyright Librarian for further assistance.