Powerbase:Image Use Policy and Guidelines

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You can upload images and scanned documents into the Powerbase database. This page covers Powerbase policy in regards to the use of images as well as providing some guidelines in how to add pictures to a page. Guidelines for adding images can also be found in How to edit a page.


Only copyright-free images, or images that you have obtained permission to use, can be added to Powerbase. See Powerbase Copyrights policy for further information.

All images are copyrighted by the person who originated the image. This person can choose to make the image copyright-free and place it in the public doman, which is in some cases specifically stated.[1]

If no such copyright-free notice is posted, then we have to get specific permission from the owner of the copyright before we can use the image, and say how it’s going to be used.[2] Therefore in principle, images we take from government sites, from MPs’ sites, etc are potentially problematic legally. We also have to avoid using company logos as there are cases of companies claiming that use of their logo suggests wrongly that they approve of the article content.[3]

For free copyright-free images, try http://www.freeimages.co.uk/

Also wiki commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

In each case, you need to find your image, then click on the picture and check that it really is copyright-free in the terms given, as not all of them are.

If you intend to use an image from a website (such as from a company's own or government website) and think that the image is copyright free, check in the File Info section for any notes on copyright. Alternatively, check in the copyrights section of the website.

If you have unique material - such as a document obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request or a photograph taken by yourself - then feel free to upload it into the Powerbase database and link to it in the relevant article.

Otherwise, please do not use images without written (or emailed) permission. There are various image firms that make most of their money by suing people for using their pictures without permission, and they will take action over the most seemingly trivial infractions of their copyright. They have special software that trawls the net looking for their images, so the fact that they are not likely to visit the Powerbase site in person is no protection.

Please avoid using company logos in all cases. The law on this is unclear but there have been cases of companies harassing people who reproduce logos on their own websites or blogs. In one case the company claimed that use of its logo implied that the company endorsed the content of the website, even though that content was clearly criticizing the company. We at Powerbase do not want to get into such discussions, which can tie up valuable time and resources.

Fair use

It used to be commonly argued that re-using an image for non-profit, reporting or educational purposes was fair use and therefore not subject to copyright law. The fair use concept is extremely complex and is coming under increasing challenge from lawyers worldwide. We therefore cannot rely on it as a defence in re-using images.[4]

Which copyright laws apply to Powerbase?

Just because Powerbase is based in the UK doesn't mean that the site is subject only to UK copyright law. Lawyers can use the law of any country in which the site is accessible, or they can use "international copyright law".

What type of file should I use?

  • It is best to use JPEG files (with the *.jpg suffix) wherever possible or alternatively PNG files (with the *.png suffix). Do not use Windows BMP format images; they are uncompressed and take up too much space.
  • It is also best to keep the file size down to less than 100k. The smaller the better. Remember that there are many web users on slow dialup connections and we don't want to deter them from accessing Powerbase because of slow-loading pages due to big images.
  • Adobe Acrobat files (PDFs): A general rule of thumb is that if the document already exists in a location where it is likely to remain, it it better to link to it than upload it. The important issue is that it can be accessed somewhere by readers if it is necessary for verification of important points.

How to upload an image or pdf

Please go to Powerbase:How to Post Images, Photos, Screengrabs, and Video Clips.

Related Powerbase resources


  1. For more information, see Guidelines for images and other media files, Wikipedia, accessed 19 October 2009.
  2. For more information, see Frequently Asked Questions About Copyright, JISC Digital Media website, accessed 19 Oct 2009
  3. Monsanto to Bitter Greens: "Cease" and Desist, Bitter Greens Journal blog, 26 Aug 2005, accessed 19 Oct 2009
  4. What is fair use?, Univ of Texas website, accessed 19 Oct 2009