Reproducing an image in a scholarly article in order to comment upon that image is often considered “fair use” — just as it is often considered fair use to quote text from another source — and no permission is needed. To learn more about fair use and when you and your authors can rely on it, please consult these helpful guides:

If an author’s use of a particular image in a journal article falls outside of fair use, they should request permission from the copyright holder. Some copyright holders will have a permission form they regularly use for this purpose, which authors should read carefully before signing. In instances where the copyright holder does not have such a form, we have a sample permission form journals can adapt for their authors to use, attached below. 

Note that the scope of the permission for the image does not need to match the journal’s Creative Commons (CC) license; the image just needs to be clearly marked with a caption, footnote, etc., indicating the source and copyright status for the material in question. 

For example, an image caption might include "(c) Someone's Estate Image Archive 1987." Optionally, you could add more information for readers like "image used with permission" or "This image is not covered by this article's [CC details] license." This puts readers on notice that if they want to use the image in any way other than in the context of the article, they need to contact the copyright holder themselves, or conduct their own fair use analysis. For more information on marking third party content in a CC licensed work, see this page at the Creative Commons website.

If you still have questions about the use of third party materials in your journal’s articles, or about permissions and fair use, submit a ticket.