Stock photos are an affordable way to quickly get great looking photos to use on your website and marketing materials. However, it is important to remember that the photographers, stylists, models and artists who created those images are hard working individuals just like you and me, so it’s important not to steal and misuse their art. Many clients often ask what the rules and laws are with using stock photos. iStockphoto.com (one of our favorites) has put together this quick and easy explanation of some of the most common questions and issues regarding the proper use of stock photos:
Using an image as part of a business name, logo, trademark, design mark or service mark.
The whole point of having a logo, business name or design mark is so that it will be unique in the marketplace. How can your logo be unique if you’re using a royalty-free file that millions of other people could have downloaded? Besides violating the iStockphoto Content License Agreement, using an image in this way also infringes upon the rights of the artist who created the file. If these aren’t reasons enough, good luck trying to develop or enforce rights in conjunction with a logo that uses a royalty-free image.
Reselling an iStock image on t-shirts, pins, posters, apparel, etc. without an Extended License
If you plan to use an iStock file to sell any kind of product, you need an Extended License. Downloading a royalty-free file from iStock does not mean that you are free to do anything you want with it. Extended Licenses exist for the rare instances where you may need to use a file above and beyond its original licensing intention. An Extended License provides greater usage freedom for the files licensed from iStockphoto and properly compensates the artist for extended use of their file. Extended Licenses are also subject to some restrictions, so read the Extended License Provisions.
Redistributing iStock files for free or as complimentary gifts without an Extended License
Downloading files with the Standard royalty-free license (automatically included with all files) does not mean you can give it away for free on something such as electronic wallpaper. The moment you want to sell or redistribute your work which includes an iStock file, you need an Extended License.
Depicting a model in a sensitive way or with falsely attributed information
Would you like it if someone took your photo and then an advertiser or political group used it with text that attributes a sensitive statement or endorsement to you, for example: “I have a mental illness” or, “I voted for Ferrets Against Furs”? No, you probably wouldn’t like it. That’s because it’s a violation of the rights of both the model and artist. Neither iStock’s Standard or Extended License allows you to use any iStock file in a way that depicts a model in a sensitive way i.e. mental or physical health issues, substance abuse, criminal behavior, sexual activity or preference. Even if you need an image to promote a good cause, please be careful not to violate these sensitive licensing permissions.