Want to use an image from a publication? Copyright (license) concern

In Citation tracking, Tools by Xu CuiLeave a Comment

Your customer has published a paper citing your product. You want to use the beautiful images in the paper on your website and other marketing materials, such as emails or social media posts. Do you know if you can use the image legally? Do you need to contact the authors or publisher first?

First, you will need to check the copyright/license of the paper. We find that there are 3 major licenses for scientific publications, CC BY, CC BY-NC-ND, and protected.

CC BYCreative Commons Attribution
CC BY-NC-NDCreative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial (NC), No Derivatives (ND)


The “CC BY” license allows you to use, distribute, and build upon the original work (even for commercial purposes), as long as you provide proper attribution to the original creator. It’s one of the most permissive licenses offered by Creative Commons.


On the other hand, CC BY-NC-ND is not that friendly for commercial use.

NC (Non-Commercial): Users cannot use the work for commercial purposes. This means the work cannot be used in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or monetary compensation.

ND (No Derivatives): Users cannot distribute modified versions of the work. The work must be passed along unchanged and in whole.

Under the CC BY-NC-ND license, the following is allowed:
1. You can download the work and share it with others as long as you give appropriate credit.
2. You can use it for non-commercial purposes only.

The following is not allowed:
1. You cannot use the work for commercial purposes.
2. You cannot create derivatives of the work, meaning you can’t change it and then distribute the changed material.
3. You can’t apply any additional restrictions or technological measures on the licensed work that would prevent others from doing anything the license permits.

In summary, the CC BY-NC-ND license allows for sharing of the work with credit but prohibits both commercial use and the creation/distribution of derivative works. It’s one of the more restrictive Creative Commons licenses.


If a paper is behind the paywall, even if you obtain the paper, you are likely prohibited from using the images in the paper.

To summarize:

LicenseNameCan I use the images on my website?
CC BYCreative Commons AttributionYes
CC BY-NC-NDCreative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial (NC), No Derivatives (ND)No

If a paper is CC BY-NC-ND or protected, there are still alternative ways to use the information in the paper for your marketing. For example, you may contact the author and obtain an unpublished image with similar information. You can use this image for your marketing purposes.

We at BizGenius can help you find the license information for each paper. If you need it, we will add a new column indicating the license of each paper, such as CC BY, CC BY-NC-ND, or protected, in the Excel report. Please let us know for more information.

If you find the article useful, you may consider to subscribe:

Leave this empty:

Leave a Comment