Many museums, galleries, and other cultural institutions include digital collections on their websites. Even though these images are free to view online, you should always assume they are protected by copyright. Be sure to cite them appropriately, and ask permission to use them if necessary. Or, you can provide a link to the image instead of copying it directly into your paper or presentation.
What is public domain?
A work is in the public domain if no copyright restrictions apply to it. This usually happens when the term of copyright has expired. Most documents created in Canada, including photographs, enter the public domain fifty years after the death of the author. For detailed information on public domain in Canada, visit UBC's Copyright Guide.
Remember, the vast majority of works you will find online are protected by copyright. If you aren't sure if a work is in the public domain, assume that it isn't.
What are Creative Commons licences?
A creator of a photograph, video, piece of writing, or other work can choose to apply a Creative Commons licence. This means that they have chosen to open their work to greater use than that typically allowed by copyright. Visit the Creative Commons site to learn more about the types of licences authors may use.
Remember, you need to attribute CC-licenced works to their creators.