Using and crediting images in Science Borealis articles

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There are two many categories of royalty-free, cost-free images you can use in articles posted on Science Borealis. These are images in the public domain and images licensed under Creative Commons.

Public domain

Public domain images are no longer covered by copy right. Nobody owns them, or nobody owns them any longer.

In Canada, when a person creates a work of art or intellectual property, including a photograph, she or he (and her/his estate after death) owns the rights to that work for 75 years after the creator’s death. Corporate owners/creators own their works for 75 years after creation.

The period of copy right can be extended by the Government of Canada. (Until recently, the period was 50 years.)

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is an open-access platform that makes artworks, data, information and any form of artistic and intellectual property available for public use.
“Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a globally-accessible public commons of knowledge and culture. We make it easier for people to share their creative and academic work, as well as to access and build upon the work of others. By helping people and organizations share knowledge and creativity, we aim to build a more equitable, accessible, and innovative world.”
When using an image licensed under Creative Commons, the user must abide by the licence in question. There are several Creative Commons licences, each with specific restrictions on use:
  • CC0 – only “CC0” need be indicated; this licence acknowledges that the image is licensed under Creative Commons with no (0) additional image info required.
  • CC […] must acknowledge Creative Commons and whatever other requirements indicated in the specified […] licence:
  • […] BY = must acknowledge the photographer’s name (image by)
  • […] NC = must be used only for non-commercial purposes (non-commercial)
  • […] ND = the image cannot be substantially changed; i.e., cannot be massively PhotoShopped, masked, turned into a t-shirt, etc.; BUT cropping edges and correcting colour levels are okay (non-derivative)
  • […] SA = if you use images licensed as SA, you have to share your own images under the same CC […] SA licence. SciBor isn’t eligible under the SA licence, as we are not photographers and therefore don’t have photos to share alike.
It’s also a good idea to include the licence version (2.0; 3.0, etc.), which should be provided via the licence-info page of whatever image-sharing platform the image is available on and linked to CC page.
Excluding CC0, all of the above licence categories can be combined in any number or permutation. The most common combinations are:
  • CC BY
  • CC BY-NC
  • CC BY-ND

Some (not all) Common Creative Commons image platforms

Wikimedia CommonsWARNING: not all images uploaded to Wikimedia Commons are uploaded by their creators/copy-right holders and are not legitimate additions to the platform. It is your responsibility to determine if the upload and the licences indicated are legitimate.

Other sources, alternative licensing

Unsplash is another community-driven source of free, royalty-free and stock images:
  • All photos can be downloaded and used for free
  • Commercial and non-commercial purposes
  • No permission needed (though attribution is appreciated)
  • Photos cannot be sold without significant modification.
  • Compiling photos from Unsplash to replicate a similar or competing service.

Even though Unsplash doesn’t require attribution, at Science Borealis, we require contributors to be credited; e.g., “Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash.”

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