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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.


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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.

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

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.

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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.


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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

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

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Sounds like a terrible idea but anyways maybe you'll find your answers in this blogpost The pitfalls of stock image licensing

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

Hi zowika, could you please explain a bit more what we'll find behind the link you provide and why it answers the question? That way, your answer is still of value in case the link breaks at a later time. Link rot is the main reason we really dislike link-only answers here. Thanks for your effort and keep contributing! – Vincent Feb 16 at 14:28

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