I want to use an image of Misty Copeland from the internet for my small magazine booklet that I've been working on for my class project. My concern is that would it be an issue in the future for applying for a job because I am planning to add this to my portfolio.

2 Answers 2


In the US there is Fair Use.

Purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes: Courts look at how the party claiming fair use is using the copyrighted work, and are more likely to find that nonprofit educational and noncommercial uses are fair. This does not mean, however, that all nonprofit education and noncommercial uses are fair and all commercial uses are not fair; instead, courts will balance the purpose and character of the use against the other factors below. Additionally, “transformative” uses are more likely to be considered fair. Transformative uses are those that add something new, with a further purpose or different character, and do not substitute for the original use of the work.

If this is for a school project, and you are not selling the product or profiting from the use of the image, you are most likely fine. Employers understand that "student work" often includes materials (image, etc) that would not be used in real-world situations.

Displaying it in your portfolio sounds fine to me. It appears as though your usage would absolutely fall under "fair use". However, I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice.

The modern trend in magazines to to have 1 striking photo on the cover, that's it. So if it's along the lines of:

enter image description here


enter image description here

Where the photo itself is 90% of the cover, then it may not be a great portfolio piece. In reality the photographer gets most of the credit for cover of this nature.

If it's a fresh design for a magazine and merely uses a photo for impact or placement, that would be fine in my eyes. You should be honestly more concerned with replicating designs which may have previously been seen by an employer.

  • There is some regional difference on rules, true. While we dont have fair use. We do have a rule that says a students final work is exempt of all copyright. But yes...
    – joojaa
    Mar 18, 2017 at 21:27
  • Agreed @joojaa -- to be honest these days.. I'd just go buy a $3 stock photo rather than pull something off the interwebs. When I was a student we didn't have the luxury of digital photos or the internet (gasp!) but I can't say I wouldn't have sniped an image or two for student work if that were available then.
    – Scott
    Mar 18, 2017 at 21:34

Before we begin I'd like to point out that there is no question in your question. Which is quite a problem. Relying on implication is a recipe for miscommunication.

Quite simply you can not use images without explicit permission. Yeah, it's a bit insane, but that's how it works, everything is off limits by default. However there is a trick its called:

  • Beg
  • Borrow
  • Steal

Now, you're too small to use the stealing approach, as in: You can do it, nobody is likely to care, but if they are you're in trouble. It just won't work well on your portfolio. So don't do it.

This brings you to borrowing which in case of immaterial things is, well according to powers, to be stealing. So it's off limits due to the last point.

So you're up with begging. Contact Misty Copeland and some photographer and ASK for permission. Since of what you are and what you do just might happen.

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