Graphic Design Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for Graphic Design professionals, students, and enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What are the rules concerning incorporating stock image elements into a website branding or logo?

From what I understand, doesn't allow it. Are there any stock images sites that do? Is there a specific licensing option required?

Please note- I'm not talking about adopting a stock image as a logo straight up- just using it as an element in a larger logo or brand design. What I want to know is if there's any leeway there, or if logos must always be original art from the ground up.


share|improve this question
Sounds like a terrible idea but anyways maybe you'll find your answers in this blogpost The pitfalls of stock image licensing – zowika Feb 16 at 13:55
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Using a stock image as the entire logo, or even part of a logo requires proper permissions.

The permissions depend on the license that that image is licensed under. Which license is needed is wholly dependent on what you plan to do with the final product. There are websites that have one license applied to the entire website, and anyone uploading to that website agrees to those license terms, and other stock websites allow their users to set the license.

Commercial stock is typically the hardest to find if you're looking for free commercial resources, but there are still some pretty good resources scattered around. is a great resource, I do believe every user can control their license. Please correct me if I'm wrong. is a texture website but everything on it you can use commercially.

To summarize, there is no definite answer. There isn't one governing rule. It all depends on the website/user, so be sure to check the licenses and read them through.

share|improve this answer
+1 for They often have decent images and their licenses are typically very clear. – Farray May 18 '11 at 17:33

Just to inform you; I 've used an image of gettyimages by using screenshot program. Just an cropped part of it. I modified and merged it with 50% transparency with my existing image. Then I changed some saturation. The image was 150x150 pixel. After 2 years, I received an legal warning letter with costs about $1500.-.

Also if you "CAN" download the image as "free" there are rules why you are not allowed to make it public.

I really recommend to explicit request for each image for license to not fall into unwanted costs. If the producer changed his mind from "free license" to "nonfree license" it is hard for you to validate your situation.


share|improve this answer
Should stackexchange be a forum, I would post a generic facepalm image. – koiyu May 18 '11 at 12:31
If that was the case, somebody would have to start the slow clap... – Ray Mitchell May 19 '11 at 0:07
This sounds like a confessional. – DA01 May 19 '11 at 1:54
+1 This is actually a useful (perhaps not 'good') answer. – e100 May 20 '11 at 12:30

The rules are outlined in the EULA that you would be agreeing to by purchasing the rights to reproduce the image. Typically using it for a logo is not permitted.

share|improve this answer

Bad idea. Plus it wont look good. However you can use a stock image as an inspiration to ignite your creative forces.

share|improve this answer

you can go check out

Everything on the site is free for commercial use and of high quality as well.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.