How do I know if a web image is copyrighted?

I’m designing a flyer to announce a new product my lab is making available as a scientifiic resource and I’ve found a perfect image to use for this flyer. How do I know if this image is public domain? The bottom of the webpage says the standard “copyright 1996-2004”, which I assume is the page itself. There is no copyright info on the image itself.

Is it best to e-mail the site owner and ask directly?

FTR, I work for a major University and this flyer is for a pretty esoteric product that will be of interest to a few hundred scientists, maybe a thousand tops.


The creator of an image automatically has a copyright. You can’t reproduce it without permission unless you actively determine that it’s in the public domain. IOW, ask.

Nametag gave you the best answer… so I just want to give you an alternative, check for Creative Commons content at or Check the Creative Commons website first to learn about that system, and if you like it you’ll find a lot of pictures in the Common Content website.