University Library

Copyright Information Point for students

The purpose of this Copyright Information Point is to increase copyright awareness. The message is: know your rights and know the rules!

What is copyright?

Copyright is a law-provided guarantee for the author, giving the author the rights on his or her work. The copyright is a so-called 'excluding' or 'exclusive' right. As author you yourself decide what happens with your work and you have the exclusive right to exploit your work.

The legislator describes the copyright in article 1 of the Copyright Act as follows:

The exclusive right of the author of a piece of literature, science or art or of his assignees, to publish or multiply it, except for the limitations set by the law.

The basic idea of copyright is that your personality rights and exploitation rights are being respected.

The use of copyright-protected work

When using texts, images, sound and video, you have to realize that in general everything is copyright-protected: everything that does not belong to you belongs to someone else!

Finding and processing literature is a standard part of your study activities. When you use sources produced by others, make sure you do so responsibly.

When you are writing a thesis or carrying out other research, be sure to cite and acknowledging your sources properly. Theses are checked for plagiarism.

Tilburg University RefCite is an online tutorial on referencing, plagiarism and copyright developed for students of Tilburg University. The tutorial helps you learn how to incorporate outside sources into your text, how to document them correctly, and how to avoid plagiarism and copyright infringement. It comprises five sections plus a self-test.

Student's copyright in theses

In general, the copyright on a thesis or other graduation work, which aim to test the knowledge and skills of the student, rests with the student. Copyright over a student thesis is only called into question when certain interests play a role.

Are you doing an internship or research at an organization? Because of the different interests that may be involved for both the student and the client or employer, you should make clear agreements about the possibilities and limitations with regard to publishing, distributing and re-using your thesis or graduation work. Isn't there any such agreement? In that case, the student remains the copyright holder and can decide him/herself how the work will be distributed and/or commercialized.

Keep in mind that you have a responsibility to maintain scientific integrity.


Use of photos

This information is a brief summary of the chapter about copyright on photos on the Internet and on the Ius Mentis website (only in Dutch).


Almost all photos and images available on the Internet are copyrighted and are only to be used with the creator's permission. You are not allowed to copy and distribute the photos or to use them on a website. Images with a Creative Commons license are an exception to this rule, because this license indicates that you are free to reuse the image as long as you credit the creator.


Reuse of photos or images only for decorative purposes is not allowed. You may use (a part of) a photo, image or drawing to announce, criticize or discuss it. Following citation law, a relevant part of someone else’s work may be used. In all these cases, reuse must be justified by its purpose and source citation is obligatory.

Portrait rights

When someone is recognizable in a photo, then the photo is a portrait. Portrait rights apply when you use a portrait. In Dutch law, two kinds of portraits exist: on commission or not on commission. A portrait on commission can only be publicized with consent of all persons depicted. When a portrait has been made without a specific order, it can be publicized without permission. However, you must take into account the interests of the persons in the picture.

Free photos and images

Many websites offer free photos. A small selection is given below. Always read the terms of use of the website. You will find more information about the use of photos for your website, blog or presentation in Raymond Snijders’s blog post Foto’s zoeken en hergebruiken (only in Dutch) about searching for photos and reusing them.

Most free photos will have a Creative Commons (CC) license and can be used for free, but some conditions have to be met. The most important one is that you credit the photographer and it would be nice to link to his or her personal web page as well.

Websites with free photos

Britannica ImageQuest is a source that brings together the images of many large image libraries such as Getty and National Geographic. It offers high quality, trustworthy and rights-cleared images for educational use only. Tilburg University students and staff members can use the images on the condition that you cite properly. ImageQuest provides you with the image source and citation information and lets you choose from four citation styles: APA, MLA, Harvard and Chicago.

The images are for educational, non-commercial use: for faculty research, classroom activities, homework assignments, digital learning environments, student projects and university publications. You can also use the images for the promotion of events and services on Tilburg University’s website, in advertising, or in marketing. You can access Britannica ImageQuest via the Library databases A to Z.

Flickr is an image hosting and video hosting website and popular for users to share and embed personal photographs. Flickr provides both private and public image storage. The licensing options primarily include the CC-based licenses. You can limit your first search results to photos with a CC-license or you might as well start with an advanced search.

Most of Wikipedia's text and many of its images are licensed under the CC-license so they are free to use. It also includes public domain images of many resources. Click the image to check the copyright status.

Wikimedia Commons is a database of millions of freely usable media files. Everyone is allowed to copy, use and modify any files on Wikimedia Commons freely as long as you follow the terms specified by the author. This often means crediting the source and author or creator appropriately and releasing copies or improvements under the same freedom to others. The license conditions of each individual media file can be found on their description page.

Morguefile contains photos freely contributed to be used in creative projects by the visitors of the site. To acknowledge the creator’s work, credit the photographer when possible. Please note that Morguefile also offers links to websites where you have to pay for the use of photos!

Unsplash offers high quality and high-resolution photos. You can use them free of charge for commercial and non-commercial purposes. The Unsplash License grants you the right to download, copy, modify and distribute photos without permission from the photographer of Unsplash. However, giving photo credit is appreciated when possible. The license does not include the right to compile photos from Unsplash to replicate a similar or competing service.

Pexels is a free stock photo and video website and is very similar to Unsplash. Photos and videos can be downloaded and used for free. Giving credit to the creators is not required, but is greatly appreciated! For more information on the terms of use, see New to Pexels.