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Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature: Images

Subject support from Library Services for staff and students in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature.

JISC Digital Media

The JISC Digital Media website has advice from JISC Digital Media about all aspects of working with images, including digitisation, creation, finding and using them. Moving images are also included in a separate section.

Box of Broadcasts (BoB)


Flickr primarily hosts amateur photography and institutional photography, much of it freely available to use. It is a great resource for finding contemporary images of people, places, buildings, and events.  Images are available under Creative Commons licensing.


Flickr Commons
Flickr Commons is made up of public photography archives from major institutions. The Commons was launched in 2008 as a collaboration with the Library of Congress, and has since expanded to include institutions such as The Imperial War Museum, the George Eastman House, and the New York Public Library. Users are invited to help describe the works, thus making the collections richer and easier to search. Images in the Commons have no known copyright restrictions.

Why should you use specialist image databases?

There are many good reasons why you should use the specialised image databases and multi-media collections such as Artstor or BoB Box of Broadcasts in preference to using Google:

Google does not contain all images, for example, many organisations only make their images available through licensed collections or specialised image databases such as Bridgeman or Artstor.

Accuracy and Searching Power

Specialist image databases often have more sophisticated search methods, such as by creator, medium, technique, location, colour etc.

It is not easy to tell which images have been modified. It is very easy to alter images online in all sorts of ways. If you need to be certain you are looking at a faithful digital version of an image, use a specialised image database such as Bridgeman or Artstor.

Just because someone has uploaded an image to Google does not mean you have permission to copy and use it. It is not easy to tell which images on Google are in copyright and which are in the public domain or covered by creative commons licences. If you use a specialised image databases such as Bridgeman or Artstor you can be confident that you can use the image in your essays or presentations.

Image Databases

Attributing Images

To attribute an image, you should include

  • author's eg photographer's, artist’s name
  • title
  • source ie where you found it
  • licensing information

The author's name is usually available in the same place where you found the image.  For example, if you're using a photo from Flickr, it would be acceptable to use the name of the account where you found the photo, or there may be a person's actual name.

Licensing information is a bit more complicated.  There are lots of different licences for images. Some images are in the public domain, which means that they are not subject to copyright law.  If you are using a public domain image, you are not legally required to attribute it.  However, it is good idea to include an attribution anyway so that anyone who is reading your work can see where the image is from and knows that you are allowed to use it. Some images have special conditions attached which you must obey.