Teddy is working on a presentation for class next week. To be sure to do it correctly, he followed the advice given in the article "Using Digital Graphics to Make Appealing Visual Presentations". He wants to use images and graphics.The presentation will not be distributed beyond the class. Teddy asks himself if he should use royalty-free images and graphics. He doesn't know if there are any particular regulations to respect, such as copyright on the images. Is it possible to plagiarize images?


  1. What is a royalty-free image?
  2. What are the risks of plagiarism of images?
  3. How to use royalty-free images?
  4. Where can I find royalty-free images?


image right plagiarism

1. What is a royalty-free image?

Images can take several forms: photo, graph, drawing... In any case, the royalty-free image is always governed by a license of use. It will always belong to its author, as Article L-111-1 of the French Intellectual Property Code states: "The author of a work of the mind shall enjoy in that work, by the mere fact of its creation, an exclusive incorporeal property right which shall be enforceable against all persons." A royalty-free image may very well be a no-fee or for-fee image. It is often governed by a Creative Commons license, which means that it can be used indefinitely but within a defined context. The principle of the Creative Commons is to open the field of creation to others and to enable regulated sharing. Thus, a royalty-free image is simply an image that is intended to be used and governed by various terms of use.

2. What are the risks of plagiarism of images?

As a teacher or student, maybe you think that no one will catch you and you can use any image without risk? As soon as the image is included in a presentation, homework assignment, or course, it is subject to intellectual property and the author must be mentioned. You might as well form good habits and credit the author for all images used.

In the article "5 dangers of using Google Images without permission" written by Amos Struck for the Stock Photo Secrets website, we are reminded of the risks inherent in the improper use of images:

In criminal cases, the penalty for copyright infringement is up to a €300,000 fine and three years in prison.

Today, robots called "copyright trackers" can crawl the Internet in order for authors to find their images and be notified in case of misuse.

It is also a question of ethics: copyright is an important concept.

Great tips to avoid plagiarism
plagiarism royalty-free images

3. How to use royalty-free images?

Please note: royalty-free does not mean free images. In fact, all images are subject to copyright. It is important to learn how to use these images properly in a school setting so as not to expose yourself to risks. As a user of images, it is imperative that you ensure that you are always in compliance. This can be done either by using royalty-free images that can be reused, or by acquiring a paid licence, depending on the uses you wish to make of them. Copyright is as important for a quote as it is for an image or graphic.

The use you can make of an illustration (use, modification, commercial use or not) depends on the type of licence that governs it. If nothing is mentioned, assume that there is a copyright and that you cannot use the image. If it says Creative Commons, you can use the image. The type of licence will then tell you what you can do with it. For example, there are Creative Commons "NC" licenses for non-commercial. This means that you can use the image, but not for commercial purposes. For more explanations on the types of licences that exist, please consult the website "https://creativecommons.org".

There are also free licenses such as GNU (GNU's Not Unix) for free documentation, or sometimes a simple "royalty free" mention. In this case, you can use the images and modify them as you wish. If you wish to use a public domain image, the only compulsory mention is that of the author, which is the case for the majority of works.

Copyright also applies to personal photos, even if you are the author.

  • Image rights of identifiable persons

You must seek the consent of the person in the photo. The consent serves as evidence in case of a dispute. It can be in the form of a signed document or a video. It defines the scope of exploitation (e.g. use for 10 years). 

  • Right to the image of goods

Goods (house, furniture, clothes...) are subject to image rights. In order to use an image of a property, the owner's agreement must be sought.

  • Photo of a celebrity

In France, image rights are stricter than in other countries in order to preserve the privacy of celebrities. When the celebrity is in a public place, the photo is allowed. It is forbidden in a private place. 

  • Respect for dignity

A photo can be challenged if it violates dignity. The photographer exposes himself to very high penalties.


quote image source

4. Where can I find royalty-free images?

First of all, how do you know if an image is copyright-free? 

Search engines, platforms and free or paid image banks indicate the licence of the image, as well as its author.

From which image banks can I download free images? Each image bank is specialised in a visual format: photo, icon, drawings...

Photo image platforms generally offer higher quality images than those found on search engines: FreepikAdobe, Shutterstock, Offset, Flickr

Also, find the icons you need on Flaticon.

Finally, you can also choose an image bank specially designed for the educational environment. You can use databases dedicated to art history, geography, or for example find illustrations of experiments on electricity for a physical science class.

Then, when you search for an image in a search engine, you can filter your searches according to the rights you are looking for.

Google Images has restricted the identification of the rights of use of images: 

  • Creative Commons licenses
  • Commercial and other licenses

> Search for an image, click on the "tools" button and then on the "usage rights" button.

Quant offers more visibility on usage rights: 

  • Public domain,
  • Reproduction and sharing without commercial purposes,
  • Reproduction and sharing,
  • Reproduction, sharing and modification without commercial purposes
  • Reproduction, sharing and modification.

> Click on the "Any license" button.

Ecosia also informs about the licences of its images: 

  • License,
  • Free to share and use,
  • Free to share and use for commercial purposes,
  • Free to modify, share and use,
  • Free to modify, share and use for commercial purposes,
  • Public domain.

> Click on the "License" button.


In his search for images for his presentation, Teddy uses graphics, royalty-free photos, icons under creative commons licenses and paid images. In all cases, he indicates the author of the image to avoid plagiarism of copyrighted images. In his grading, his teacher values Teddy's ability to apply the citation rules required in his university course. 


Sources :

  • Article images, "Two travel photograph icon", Canva Pro, Pavel vectors, used on 17/05/2022. 
  • Canva, consulted on 17/05/2022. 
  • Pixabay, consulted on 17/05/2022. 
  • Pexels, consulted on 17/05/2022. 
  • Stocklib, consulted on 17/05/2022. 
  • Istockphoto, consulted on 17/05/2022. 
  • Fotomelias, consulted on 17/05/2022. 
  • Google Images, consulted on 17/05/2022.