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Counselling Art Therapy - Vancouver: Copyright and Citing Images

What is Copyright?

Copyright is created and governed by the Canadian Copyright Act and Canadian court decisions. Canada is a party to various international copyright treaties, which have been implemented by the Copyright Act, and which influence court decisions.

When any person creates an original "work", the law of copyright automatically governs who has the right to produce, copy, perform, publish, adapt, translate or telecommunicate that work.

The term "work" means:

  • any literary, artistic, dramatic and musical work,
  • a computer program,
  • a translation of a work,
  • a compilation of others' works,
  • a recording of any kind, and
  • a performance of a work.

Generally (but not always), the author of the work is the copyright owner – and that person is said to hold or own the copyright in the work. In other words, they have the right to control if and how the work will be produced, copied, performed, etc.

The rights of the copyright owner, however, are subject to certain user rights, which permit members of the general public to copy, perform etc. works in certain limited circumstances, without the copyright owner's knowledge or permission.

Copyright applies once the work is put into a fixed form (e.g. written down on paper, saved on a computer, recorded, videotaped, or painted on canvas) except for a sound recording, performer's performance or communication signal (which may be transmitted instead of fixed). The work does not have to be in its final form – copyright applies to drafts too.

From UBC's Basics FAQ. used under a CC BY-SA 4.0 licence

Guidelines for citing images in APA 7th

Note: the librarians are not able to tell you how to cite or to proofread your citations. We will help you find information and guides about citations and APA style, but you'll want to contact the Academic Writing Advisor for any proofreading and writing help.

UBC's educational resources guide also has information about finding and citing images.

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is, of course, the definitive guide to APA style. Use it for guidance on placing and labeling images and figures within your paper and on gaining permission to use an image. A copy of the Manual is available to consult within the library.

Images and Copyright

Using images in your work differs from using textual resources. Very rarely do you want to use a portion of the image, the way you do when using quotations from text. More commonly you want to use the whole image, which is considered copying the whole work. This usage requires permission from the copyright holder; however, there are a few exceptions in the Canadian Copyright Act which allow the use of materials without first obtaining permission.

Fair Dealing

The Fair Dealing exception in the Copyright Act allows copying for the purposes of research, private study, education, satire, parody, criticism, review, or news reporting. If you are using the image for a poster or a presentation on campus, your dealing will most likely be considered fair. Keep in mind that you must give the source of the work and, if provided in the source, the author, performer, maker or broadcaster.

If your presentation/poster is to be used outside the campus, like at a national conference or published in a national journal, you must obtain permission from the owner of the copyrighted image to use it. This process may be as simple as sending an e-mail to the copyright owner (whether the author or a publishing company). You should know that obtaining permission to use an image may take weeks, so plan ahead. You are encouraged to keep a copy of your request for permission and the permission received. When including the image in your poster/presentation, acknowledge that permission was obtained under the image with the phrase "Used with permission."

From UBC's Image Sources; used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License; and Florida State University, College of Medicine, Use of Images Tutorial.

Image from an electronic source

Images, diagrams and artistic works should be cited as you would cite any other type of work.


  • Images in text are also generally accompanied by a caption that includes copyright information and a statement of permission for use. 

Tip: You should give as much information as possible about the images that you have used, including these basics:

  • creator's name (author, artist, photographer etc.)
  • date the work was published or created
  • title of the work
  • place of publication
  • publisher
  • type of material (for photographs, charts, online images)
  • website address and access date
  • name of the institution or museum where the work is located (for artworks and museum exhibits)
  • dimensions of the work (for artworks)

General Format

In-Text Citation (Paraphrase):

(Artist Surname, Year)

In-Text Citation (Quotation):

(Artist Surname, Year)


Artist Surname, First Initial. Second Initial. (Year). Title of the artwork [Format]. Title of the Website. URL (address of web site)

References (No Author):

Title of work [Type of work]. (Year image was created). Title of the Website. URL (address of web site)

References (No Author, No Title, No Date):

[Subject and type of work]. Title of the Website. URL (address of web site)

Many images found on the Web fall under this category. Try to locate the missing information by clicking on the image, and/or looking at the bottom of the image.


In-Text Citation (Paraphrase):

(Baumel, 2010)

In-Text Citation (Quotation):

(Baumel, 2010)

References (Basic):

Baumel, A. (2010). Cholera treatment center in Haiti [Online image]. Doctors Without Borders.

References (No Author):

Flu epidemic [Online image]. (1919). History.

References (No Author, No Title, No Date):

[Untitled illustration of a sleeping dog]. Sleeping Animals. http://www.sleepinganimals/