Copyright Considerations

Screenshots of Software

If you plan on using screenshots of commercial software in your openly licensed work, as a general rule you should check the terms of the product website as they may spell out the rules for how to use or credit screenshots. Many companies are okay with screenshots of their software or products being used for training and education.

Microsoft spells out how you can use screenshots of their products as follows:

  • You may not use screen shots of Microsoft product boot-up screens, opening screens, “splash screens,” or screens from beta release products or other products that have not been commercially released.
  • You may use other screen shots in advertising, in documentation (including educational brochures), in tutorial books, in videos, or on Web sites, provided that, in addition to the requirements above, you:
    • Do not alter the screen shot except to resize it.
    • Do not use portions of screen shots.
    • Do not include screen shots in your product user interface.
    • Do not use screen shots that contain third-party content.
    • Do not use screen shots that contain an image of an identifiable individual.

Adobe and Google allow the use of screenshots of their products, although you should still check the citation requirements. Others, such as Yahoo, require that you ask permission.

If the software is open-source or released under a free software license, it is usually fine to use screenshots.


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Ryerson Open Textbook Authoring Guide Copyright © 2017 by Ryerson University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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