Any search engine has an image search service. Typically they make profits (with ads) offering images, they do not own and, since it is unlikely that images are in the public domain, they use generic disclaimers, such as "Images may be subject to copyright".

It should be noted that professional image sellers use, on their websites, sample images in low size/resolution with watermarks and they make available the high quality images only to paying users. So those scraped by search engines are the low quality images.

In a similar fashion, with respect to articles' images, Wikipedia states "it is believed that the use of low-resolution images [...] qualifies as fair use under the copyright law of the United States."

That being the case, what if, we do the same in a presentation for a talk? i.e. we enrich the presentation with a couple of images found, say, in images.google.com.

Is that still a fair use?
Can we too use a generic copyright disclaimer? Or Is it a good idea to add a reference to the image source at the end of the presentation?

It bears mentioning that the images in a presentation are only an embellishment to a larger work, while a search engine is selling as-is copyrighted images.

  • Is your presentation for commercial purposes? Academic? – mkennedy Mar 3 '20 at 1:31
  • @mkennedy: Academic or illustrating the features of open source projects (kind like a manual). In any case, I am not referring to something like a video to advertise a product to be sold. – antonio Mar 3 '20 at 12:17
  • Including an image in a presentation is a totally different way of using the image than including it in a search results page. The purpose of a search engine is definitely not to sell "copyrighted images" and just because you saw a low-res image on a search engine, does not mean you are allowed to use it. Adding a "reference" for the image does not really help; you need to check with who owns that image to see if it is OK to copy and republish it in your presentation. – Brandin Mar 18 '20 at 15:29
  • @Brandin: Not really an argument as "The purpose of a [presentation] is definitely not to sell copyrighted images" as well. – antonio Mar 18 '20 at 18:42
  • @antonio Yes and that should be the argument you make for a possible fair use in a presentation. Definitely not "well this other thing over here used low-res images and those are considered fair use, so...." – Brandin Mar 19 '20 at 7:42

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