Photo FAQ

Can I just download an image from a website or copy one that I see in a publication to use in my own brochure or website?

No. Using images without permission from the photographer or owner of the photographs is illegal. Copyright laws protect images in the Rutgers University Photo Gallery, Special Collections and University Archives, University Communications and Marketing Photo Archive, and any image in a Rutgers publication.

How do I get permission to use an image?

In the case of photographs in the University Communications and Marketing Photo Archive, contact Jane Hart, Creative Services Photo Archivist, 848-445-1920. Permission is generally granted except in rare cases where the photo in question is available only to the client who commissioned the work. For other Rutgers images, please contact the source from which the image was obtained.

Are there other considerations if I get an image off the web?

Yes. Images on the web are low resolution and will not reproduce well in printed publications and look quite grainy if enlarged.  Remember, photos on the web are protected by copyright law. There could be legal ramifications if you take an image from someone else’s site.

I can’t find a photo that’s just right for my project. What now?

Contact Jane Hart to view our complete archive or you can hire a freelancer to take the photo you want. University Procurement Services can guide you through the process of purchasing professional services. You will need to identify the vendors who can provide the services you need. Consider contacting colleagues for recommendations. Additional resources are available on the Precontracted Marketing and Communicators Vendors page.

Is original photography expensive?

Rates will depend on the project and how many photos are to be taken. You also will usually be charged for the computer time a photographer uses to download, edit, and prepare digital files for your use, equipment including lighting, an assistant, and travel expenses.

Who owns the image I pay a photographer to take?

Photographers, by copyright law, own the images they create except in limited situations—such as working as regular salaried employees or if they relinquish their ownership rights to another party. Since they own the images, traditionally the photographer kept the original negatives and transparencies and provided you with duplicate prints or slides or loaned you the originals until the end of your project. As most photography work done today is digital, it is typical for photographers to provide a disc of digital files, while they retain a copy for themselves. In many cases the photographers may even have a master disc of the shoot that is shot in a raw digital format (much like a film negative in digital format), from which they process edited versions and provide their clients with, for example, jpeg files. Because it is easy to make copies of images in the digital format, it is important to keep in mind that physical possession of even the digital negatives does not denote ownership of the images, and that only a written agreement can address usage rights.

What is public domain?

A public domain work is a creative work that is not protected by copyright and which may be freely used by everyone at little or no charge. The reasons that the work is not protected include: (1) the term of copyright for the work has expired; (2) the author failed to satisfy statutory formalities to perfect the copyright; or (3) the work is a work of the U.S. government. Search the internet for “public domain photos” and you will find a multitude of public domain photo resources. U.S Government Photos and Images is an official federal government resource for finding public domain images from such entities as NASA, the White House, the Library of Congress, the National Park Service, and many more.