Copyright Corner: From the Copyright mailbox

by Roxanne MacMillan on 2023-02-20T08:30:00-04:00 in Copyright Corner, Copyright | 0 Comments

Getty Images

Q: "Can I use pictures from Getty Images in my video presentations? I found some in a Google Images search and it looks like I can easily download them."

A: To legally use Getty Images content, you must pay for it. Getty Images content (or content from other stock image sites such as iStock and Shutterstock) is available under a royalty-free license, but this doesn’t mean that it is free to use. It means that you must pay a one-time fee to use an image multiple times without paying further royalties.

Since images owned by Getty are all over the Internet, we’re often asked “How will they even know if I use the images?” This story is from a Nova Scotia Health team member:

“I am the webmaster for my child’s sports team. Our team received an email from Getty Images letting us know that some of our coaches had illegally used some Getty images in electronic newsletters. They also sent an invoice for $1800 US! We had no idea that using pictures readily available from a Google search could have such expensive consequences.”

Nova Scotia Health team members must pay to use Getty Images content and other royalty-free content. You can also look for free-to-use alternatives. Visit the Using Images & Understanding Permissions page of our Copyright subject guide for suggestions.

Creative Commons

Q: “I found a clinical tool that I would like to adapt and rebrand for use at Nova Scotia Health. It is available under a Creative Commons license, so does that mean I am free to use it however I want? The license is CC BY-NC-ND.”

A: A resource that is licensed through Creative Commons is not free to use in any way you like. You must understand and comply with the terms of the license.

Let’s look at what the CC BY-NC-ND license means:

  • BY means that attribution is required. You must give credit to the creator of the material AND link to the appropriate license. You can find more information about how to appropriately cite Creative Commons resources on the Creative Commons page of our Copyright subject guide.
  • NC means non-commercial. You cannot use this material for commercial purposes.
  • ND means no derivatives. This means that you are not permitted to “remix, transform or build upon the material” (Creative Commons, n.d.), so you cannot freely adapt and rebrand this clinical tool. Your options are:
    • Use the material as is, without adaptations.
    • Look for an alternative.
    • Contact the copyright owner for permission to adapt the resource, with the understanding that the answer may be ‘No’. Library Services can help you ask for permission.

We’ll share more copyright Q&A in future blog posts. In the meantime, reach out to copyright@nshealth.ca with your copyright questions or book a one-on-one consultation.

To learn more, sign up for one of our regular education sessions or request a custom copyright education session for your team. We’re always here to help!


1. Creative Commons. (n.d.). Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Lana MacEachern

Library Technician
Aberdeen Hospital, Northern Zone

Roxanne MacMillan

Librarian Educator
Central Zone

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