I am making a survey about beverage ingredients, and to give examples in the survey it'd be easy to use images from blog posts/websites or websites of companies that make these beverages. From this survey I won't make any money.

Note: Use of the images isn't explicitly OK'd

If I provide links to the images or the websites where I got them, in my survey, would that be infringing on copyrights, or be wrong in some way?

Thank you for any help.

  • If you are infringing you are infringing. Links don't matter. Only use images you are allowed to.
    – Putvi
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 20:44
  • @Putvi OK, that makes sense. Though how does using writing from others, for our own purposes and citing it make any copy right sense?
    – RetroCUBE
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 0:04
  • @GBikeZ8 Using writing from others, as in copying parts or all of it (even with changes), is copying. But based on the reason you are copying, the amount you copy, whether it is fiction or non-fiction, etc, it may be considered fair use or fair dealing. But these topics are best addressed in other questions already posted. "Using" someone elses writing as in reading it yourself, summarizing facts about it, using the knowledge gained by reading it to produce something of your own, and so on, are not copying and are not protected by copyright.
    – Brandin
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 6:07
  • Thank you @Brandin. Would it be copyright infringement if I don't use the image, but say something like "what do you think the ingredients are in this beverage [link to beverage company or food blog]"? Also, would it be bad to use their the specific name of a beverage if it's trade marked, but I quote it and source it?
    – RetroCUBE
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 7:47
  • No, linking by itself is not copyright infringement in this context. See Is it infringement to give a link to a copyrighted file?
    – Brandin
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 13:08

2 Answers 2


17 USC 106 states what are the exclusive rights of the copyright holder in the US:

the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:

(1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;

(2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;

(3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;

(4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;

(5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and

(6) in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

If you actually copy the pictures and make the copies available via a link or similar technological means, that is infringement and providing an ancilliary link does not erase that fact. Fair use is not out of the question if you copy one image, especially if your usage is non-commercial research. You might endanger a fair use analysis if this is for-profit market research, unless the court finds your use highly transformative.

Copyright law does not prohibit "using" protected works, it specifically prohibits infringing on the copyright holder's exclusive right. Providing a link to a protected work is not the same as copying a work. However: (5) also gives the copyright holder the exclusive right to display a copyrighted pictorial work publicly. It seems that you propose to publicly display copyrighted pictorial work, which only the copyright holder has the right to authorize.

Still, US courts have not made it totally clear whether inline linking of images is legal. The case Goldman v. Breitbart finds that inline linking is infringing, contrary to (and in a different circuit from) the Server Test adopted in the 9th Circuit. In other words, this is not settled law in the US. It is also unsettled in Germany where infringement and not-infringement have both been found.


As a general rule of thumb regarding copyright, anything not explicitly permitted is forbidden. The copyright holder has not given you permission to use these images in your survey, therefore you are not permitted to do so.

There are exceptions, such as fair use or fair dealing, but it's nearly certain that they don't apply in your situation.

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