Home > copyright, interdisciplinary > VRA Fair Use Guidelines for images in teaching and research

VRA Fair Use Guidelines for images in teaching and research

The Visual Resources Association has recently published a Statement on the Fair Use of Images for Teaching, Research, and Study (VRA Fair Use Guidelines).

From the Guidelines:

Images are essential pedagogical and scholarly materials. They are unique objects whose meaning cannot be adequately conveyed through words or other media. Images may themselves be the object of commentary or critique. In other instances, images are used to facilitate the study of and communication about the objects they depict or document. In many cases, images serve as the only or best means by which to depict an object, providing the context or documentary evidence by which those objects can be understood. In still other instances, images are essential for comparison or contrast of multiple objects, or for other evaluative purposes.

Images are used extensively in teaching and research. In the arts and art historical fields, images are the foundation of the discipline and have been widely and heavily used in the classroom since the last decades of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century.1 More recently, image use has proliferated among a wide range of other fields such as cultural and area studies, foreign language studies, the life sciences, communications, business, and political science. While images historically appeared in print (or slide) form, images in digital format are now ubiquitous in teaching and research.

Teaching, research and scholarship – the purposes for which images are used in the academic contexts described in this document – are unquestionably public goods. In the classroom, in the scholar’s office, or in the study areas, images are used to facilitate academic inquiry and criticism; to encourage robust discussion, debate and discourse; and to illustrate and enlighten. By their very nature, these educational and scholarly uses further the aims of the Copyright Clause by advancing our collective knowledge in the arts and sciences.

The Guidelines have been endorsed by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Art Librarians Society (ARLIS)

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