Web image attributions

Avoid copyright infringements and use the right licences and attributions for your images.

Images on the web

As online media become more visual, there is a stronger need for high impact, quality images that tell a story about your content.

There are fantastic resources online which provide free images, but even freely available images are likely to have licence restrictions which you need to be aware of.

Using images off the web presents a risk of copyright infringement. Copyright infringement can result in reputational damage to the university and financial penalties.

Following the guidelines below will ensure that you can use these images as long as they are used for the intended purpose under which they are licensed and are correctly attributed.

It is your responsibility to check the individual requirements of each image to see if it requires an attribution depending on the image licence and ownership. If you have any concerns, it is best to confirm with the photographer/copyright holder.

Learn more about copyright: what you need to know

Images supplied by staff

Pictures are often supplied by staff for use on web pages. For example, academic staff supplying images for research stories.

It's best to cover yourself by keeping a record of the photographer's consent, even if that person is a member of staff, so if challenged you can prove that you have the right to use that image.

The record of consent should include:

  • Title of the work (if titled) and/or filename
  • Name of photographer or rights holder
  • Date of consent (on email or document)
  • Purpose for which the image is being used and possible future usage.

iStockphoto and Getty Images

Most paid-for iStockphotos and Getty Images do not require an attribution and can be used on the website, even for commercial purposes e.g. student recruitment

Editorial use - some iStockphoto images are tagged “Editorial use only”. You are not allowed to use these images commercially.

All Getty Images and iStockphotos used for editorial purposes require an attribution regardless of “Editorial use only” status.

iStockphoto licensing (point 7 for attributions):

"Do I need to include a photo credit?
You do not need to include a photo credit for commercial use, but if you are using content for editorial purposes, you must include the following credit adjacent to the content or in visual production credits: iStock.com/Artist's Member Name."

Getty Image licensing (point 6 for attributions):

Do I need to include a photo credit? You do not need to include a photo credit for commercial use, but if you are using content for editorial purposes, you must include the following credit adjacent to the content or in production credits: “[Photographer Name]/[Collection Name]/Getty Images”

Creative Commmons

You can use certain images licensed under Creative Commons. All Creative Commons (CC) licensed images require an attribution.

There are six different CC licences which use codes to describe the different licence elements:

  • CC BY (good to use)
  • CC BY-SA (good to use)
  • CC BY-ND (not suitable if you need to change the image in any way, including cropping)
  • CC BY-NC (non-commercial, use with caution)*
  • CC BY-NC-SA (non-commercial, use with caution)*
  • CC BY-NC-ND (non-commercial, use with caution)*

CC - CC stands for that it is a Creative Commons licensed image

BY - BY stands for that the photographer/owner needs to be attributed and any modifications noted, e.g. cropping an image

*NC - NC refers to images that can only be used for non-commercial purposes.
They cannot be used to illustrate paid-for courses or events.   

ND - ND, or non-derivative images, cannot be cropped or altered. They are unsuitable as carousel images on the home page or lead images within the news centre.

SA - SA stands for share alike; this means that other users are free to create a derivative version of the image and reuse, as long as it is licensed in the same way. This should not affect our usage.

Creative Commons image search: search.creativecommons.org

Public domain and CC zero

These images can be used without restriction and do not legally require attribution, however, it is best practice to provide an attribution and link to the source of the image. This way it is clear where the image came from if our use of it is challenged.

Selection of sites which provide free images

SiteLicence and usage
UnsplashAre photos on Unsplash really free to use? 
“Yes! All photos published on Unsplash can be used for free. You can use them for commercial and non-commercial purposes. You do not need to ask permission from or provide credit to the photographer or Unsplash, although it is appreciated when possible.”
“We are a community-based free photo site, and all photos found in the Morguefile archive are free for you to download and re-use in your work, be it commercial or not. The photos have been contributed by a wide range of creatives from around the world, ranging from amateur photo hobbyists to professionals.”
PixabayWhat is Pixabay
"On Pixabay you may find and share images free of copyrights. All pictures are released under Creative Commons CC0 into the public domain.
Can I use your images?
You can copy, modify, distribute, and use the images, even for commercial purposes, all without asking for permission or giving credits to the artist. However, depicted content may still be protected by trademarks, publicity or privacy rights.
PLEASE NOTE: When you search on this site you will also be presented with images from Shutterstock as a sponsored banner ad at the top of your results but you can ignore this and select from the images below."Shutterstock images are not free and you should not use these unless you are able to pay for them.
PexelsWhat is the licence of the photos on Pexels?
"All photos on Pexels are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means you can use them for free for any personal and commercial purpose. Attribution is not required. For more information read our license page.
Can I use the photos for a commercial project? 
Yes, all photos are free for any commercial use. You can use them on your commercial website, print them on t-shirts or for any other legal purpose.
Do I need to mention the source or the photographer?
No, attribution is not required. But we are always happy if you mention Pexels ;)
More information herehttps://www.pexels.com/about/"
Picjumbo"Can I use photos for commercial use (for client works, etc.)?
Yes, you can. I’m just sharing them for free, and it’s up to you how you use them.
More FAQ information here"
stocksnap.io"All photos on StockSnap fall under the Creative Commons CC0 license. That means you can copy, modify, distribute any photo on the site, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission!" 

Attribution style

Use the following format to attribute an image. Examples follow below.

<Title if available otherwise ‘Picture’> by <owner’s/Flickr name>(linked to image source) . 
<Licence name >(linked to licence).
<Image modifications if any and if required>.

Cricket by Misha PopovikjCC BY-SA 2.0. Cropped from original. 
As the image uses a Creative Commons license, CC BY 2.0,it requires: an attribution, a link to the license and a listing of any modifications.

Cebu, Phillipines by Michael Liao.
As a royalty free image under Unsplash website terms, no attribution is required. However as a courtesy and record or where the image orignated, we provide an attribution and link to the image source when possible.

You do not need to attribute thumbnails as long as the image used on the main featured content is attributed correctly.

Site Editor fields

When using Site Editor to fill in the image attribution information, these are the field that you need to complete.

Creative Commons example

Example of image attribution fields being used in Site Editor

iStock/Getty Images editorial use example

Only necessary if used with editorial content. We've taken that to include news, events, blogs and stories.

Example of image attribution fields being used in Site Editor

Copyright: image attribution

Fill in the title of the image and it's owner's name.

Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh

If you don't know the title of the image use 'Picture by' followed by the owner

Picture by Dr Seuss

For iStock editorial use follow their required format

Picture by istock.com/sturti

Copyright: image link

Add a link to the image.

Eg - if you found it on Flickr add a link to the image on Flickr

Eg - if you are using an iStock image for editorial use

Copyright: license type

Add the license type. If it is a Creative Commons license, add the abbreviated Creative Commons code.

CC BY 2.0

It is not necessary to include this for iStock.

Copyright: licence link

Add a link to the licences. For example the Creative Commons licenses.


It is not necessary to include this for iStock.

Copyright: image modifications

Some licenses (includes many Creative Commons licenses) ask you to note any changes to the image. Even if the image is just cropped

Cropped from original

It is not necessary to include this for iStock.


The new website design uses a camera icon at the bottom right of the image to present the attribution. Click the icon to view the details.

A row of world globes
Globes by Ricardo. CC BY 2.0. Cropped from original

The example above uses the Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC 2.0.

NC represents non-commercial, this can only be used non-commercially. It is important that the context in which this image is used is not for commercial advantage or monetary gain.

This could not be used for recruitment, on a course page or to publicise a revenue generating event.

The example above uses the Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

ND represents non-derivative, you cannot change this image in any away, including cropping. This would not be suitable for a feature panel, or header feature image, which needs to be cropped.

It is also for non-commercial use. This could not be used for recruitment, on a course page or to sell an event.

Public domain or CC zero

It is good practice to provide an attribution if possible.

iStockphoto - editorial use

Use the credit iStock.com/[artist's member name] in the attribution field.

A chicken in a filed

Getty Images - editorial use

Use the credit [Photographer Name]/[Collection Name]/Getty Images in the attribution field.

Skyline of Beijing
SeanPavonePhoto/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images.

Blogs and other web pages

If not using the new website theme (which uses the sliding camera icon), we suggest wrapping the attribution with [Picture: <attribution> ] as per example below. 
View live example.

A group of people playing cricket with image attribution [Cricket by Misha Popovikj. CC BY-SA 2.0. Cropped from original.]
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