Permitted use of images in theses
You can use others’ images in your thesis in the following cases:
The copyright or term of protection of the image has expired. The term of protection for a regular photograph published in Finland is 50 years from the end of the year in which the photo was taken. The term of protection for a photographic work meeting the threshold of originality needed for copyright protection is 70 years from the death of the person who created the work.
The photo is accompanied by a licence (e.g., a CC licence) that permits the use of the photo. More information on the licenses is available on the Creative Commons website.
You have received permission from the copyright holder (the person who created the photo or the publisher) to use the photo.
Citing a photo
A published image can be cited in an academic text if you discuss the image in the text and the image illustrates the matter discussed. If you are unsure whether the use of the image is permitted in a citation, ask for permission to use the image.
You must follow good scientific practice in your field. Always include the reference information on the image even if its copyright has expired.
Please see the Finnish-language ImagOA guide for detailed instructions.
If you are unsure, ask your thesis supervisor for advice.
Referencing an image
When referencing images, follow the guidelines of the referencing style you have selected. Examples of referencing different types of images based on APA guidelines can be found in the ImagOA guide.
File management of images
Name your images consistently and store the relevant background information, for example, in a word processing or reference management program, or make an image plan in an Excel file. This makes it easier to create a list of sources for your thesis, and you can check the relevant information later in the plan.
Store at least the following information:
- People in the photo and related notes
- Purpose of using the image: analysis/reference or illustration
- Commercial publication or publication by a higher education institution, research institute or scientific society
- Source of the image and the right to use it
(Source ImagOA guide)
How to obtain permission to use an image
First check whether the person who created the image has already given permission for its use. Some scientific articles are licensed under a CC licence, in which case you need not ask for permission; it is enough that you refer appropriately to the source.
To use images included in an article or a book, you must usually ask the publisher, not the article/book author, for permission. An article may be accompanied by a link (e.g., Request Permission, Get Rights and Content) that takes you, for instance, to the RightsLink service, from which you can ask permission to reuse the images. It is recommended to use the service accompanying the article.
If you ask for permission directly from the person who created the image, you should mention at least the following: information on the image to be used, the title of your thesis, your degree programme, faculty and university, and whether the thesis will be made publicly available online or whether it will only be available at a library. You should ask for permission in writing, using your University of Helsinki email address, for example.
Further information on copyright: