Photographs & audiovisual work

Copyright's rules also apply to photographs & audiovisual works.

Almost all images available on the internet are copyright protected. While it seems so easy to just pick the picture you need on the internet, you must proceed with care when re-using photographs and audiovisual materials from others to avoid copyright infrigement.

May I use photographs and audiovisual materials in my work?

You can use another’s audiovisual work (images, works of art, photographs and video and audio fragments, etc.) in your work in four ways: by citing, hyperlinking (or embedding), under a licence or under the Easy Access agreement.

You may cite images, works of art, photographs and short video and audio fragments and reuse them in your work (see question: May I cite images or videos?). Remember that all citations are limited to what you need, have to be clearly functional and have to be correctly referenced. For more information on hyperlinking or embedding, see questions "May I hyperlink to online material" and "May I embed third party audiovisual material?".

If you want to use an image in your presentation, or on the cover of your research report or thesis, you need a licence from the copyright owner. Works within the public domain can be re-used without a licence. Other works generally require a license that allows re-use (e.g. Creative Commons) (see question: What is a licence?). Specific licence terms may restrict further use of the audiovisual works. Remember that you need to correctly reference all works you use (see question: What is plagiarism?).

Images may also be used in educational material, such as readers and Brightspace course materials.

Remember that anyone who makes a work publicly available is accountable for any infringement. If you cannot show that you have obtained proper licensing permission to use an image, you may be infringing on the copyright of the image owner and you may be liable for damages.

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I found a picture on the internet, how can I rightfully use it in my work?

In general, you can consider everything that has a creative aspect in it (e.g. a picture, a cartoon, a drawing, a photograph, an infographic etc.) as copyright protected, even if this picture is freely available on the internet. Pictures found on the internet are generally also copyright protected. This means that if there is no applicable statutory limitation, you need to ask for permission to the copyright owner see question What is copyright and what is protected?. One of the statutory limitations is the right to cite. You may use small parts of the work without approval as long as you do this to illustrate a proposition, to defend and opinion, or to criticize or review another’s work. In order words, using the picture without asking for permission is only allowed when the picture adds something to your work. If you want to use the picture for decoration (e.g. on the front cover), you do need to ask permission to do so to the copyright owner; see question: How do I cite correctly?.

Tip: find a picture with a licence (e.g. a Creative Commons Licence), that allows you to use this picture in your work without permission; See question: What is a Creative Commons Licence?. Find more information on finding pictures with a licence on this page.

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Can l also use materials that depict individuals?

You may use photographs or other audiovisual materials showing individuals. However, each image containing a living individual is considered personal data and should be processed in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and WUR’s policy on personal data. Each person has the right to withdraw permission, if that was required to use his/her image, or to object to re-use of his/her personal data.

WUR has a specific policy on processing audiovisual works for events (e.g., photographing or recording attendees). Contact your local privacy officer for more information.

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What are portrait rights?

The Dutch Copyright Act also contains regulations on the use of portraits. The photographer of a portrait owns the copyright on that photograph. The person who commissioned the portrait has the right to object to public disclosure of the photograph.

If the person did not commission the portrait, he/she has the right to object to its public disclosure to the extent he/she has a reasonable interest. Such interest could be, for example, infringement on the integrity of his/her personal data, or infringement on his /her ability to sell the use of the portrait.

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May I play an audiovisual work during a lecture?

Yes, in the same form and under the same conditions as before (see question: May I use photographs and audiovisual materials in my work?).

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Where can I find WUR's free-to-use images?

As a WUR employee, you have access to the WUR Brand Portal. You can search this portal for images. Apply the filter to search for free-to-use images. Alternatively, you can open the image you are interested in and check whether it is free to use or has limited use.

If you cannot find an image you want, you can use the Communication Services' Shutterstock subscription. Contact to hear about the possibilities and the costs.

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How can I rightfully use images from the WUR Image Collection?

The material in WUR Image Collections is intended for personal use. You can consider all material in this collection to be copyright protected. For each collection, the copyright owners are stated in the grey text box on each collection page. If you want to use an image of the WUR Image Collection, please check the copyright information provided at the image or on the collection page. This information tells under which conditions you are allowed to use an image or that you need to ask for permission to the copyright owner. Also contact the copyright owner for information how to attribute. For more information see the page Copyrights and licences.

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Where can I find free-to-use images and other open content?

Tips to find open materials such as images, videos, textbooks, articles, and courses are provided on this page.


  • We recommend that you do not use pictures in which people are recognizable to avoid issues with privacy and portrait rights.
  • Most platforms offering free-to-use images do not check if the images are indeed free-to-use. We advise you to do a quick check with Google reverse image search to ensure that the image is free-to-use.

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Last updated on 04/01/2022.