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Assume you use some images with a Creative Commons license. The creative commons license states that the license cannot be revoked if you acquired the images while published as Creative Commons.

However, the owner may republish the images using a completely different license. While this does not affect your existing use, it might be necessary to prove under which license you had the images acquired.

I am aware of ImageStamper, which offers a service for Flickr images. I'd look for a more general solution, ideally without the risk of some provider going out of business.

Update:

Some notes to clarify my question:

  1. I look for a tool to prove that I have obtained an image under a certain license (and from whom). This is important to prove if the owner claims later it had never been under this license. The tool doesn't need to prove where I got them from.

  2. This can also help to protect me from someone "licensing" a work that is not his own (with some risk left, but as the work was never his, he's usually liable).

  3. It does not matter if the image is under multiple licenses. I only need (and care) for the one I obtained it.

Thanks for your help :-)

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Copyright and licensing and such are all legal concepts. There aren't really 'tools' to manage this as it's not technical in nature. Best you can do is likely take a screen shot of the original web page you found the image from with the licensing info on it. –  DA01 Jul 27 at 18:20
    
Sometimes there might be an old version of the webpage archived on the "wayback machine" at archive.org - but don't rely on it –  user568458 Aug 1 at 12:22

2 Answers 2

I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think you need to prove that you got the images from the CC source. Even if the owner published them under multiple license agreements, you likely only need two things to be true to be covered:

  • You need to be able to demonstrate that the images were licensed using CC (but not necessarily prove you got them there), and:
  • You need the author to NOT be able to prove that you personally agreed to some other license with her, presumably one in which you agreed to pay a fee or to other conditions.

Put another way, the CC licenses don't require you to prove where you got the images as a condition - as long as you follow the attribution and any other explicit terms of the license, you should be fine unless someone can prove you entered another agreement that would require payment, etc.

One note of caution: one thing that can be a risk in CC works found online is that the poster might not be entitled to license to the work under CC (or any other way). An example would be if I take an Ansel Adams photo, and post it on a site with a CC license, you might find it there, and have a good faith reason to think you can use it, but you don't, because it was never mine to license. That said, in cases where you can't reasonably be expected to know I violated the site's ToS by licensing something I don't own or have a right to license, your exposure is probably fairly limited since you were acting on the good faith belief that the work was correctly licensed.

Again, if you need real legal advice, ask a real legalpert, (lawpert?) etc...

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Thanks for your answer! I do not ask for legal advice in a sense of what I have to prove, but for a way how to do it (e.g. a tool). I've updated my question to make some points clearer. –  Marcus Bitzl Jul 27 at 18:09
up vote 2 down vote accepted

After all I wrote a message to the legal project lead of Creative Commons Germany.

The summary of his answer is:

As there are no central registries, the best you can do is taking a screenshot where the image and the corresponding license are clearly visible. This is usually enough to prevent or counter legal issues and you do not depend on any third party.

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