If I take a bunch of random/misc. images I have gathered from the internet over time (I don't even know their original source) and make a collage and print it, can I use it as marketing material in the form of a flier or post card? Am I free somehow of copyright considerations since now it is a "new" image in the form of a collage...?
There is no such thing as...
- "edit an image enough and it's okay."
- "I don't know where I got it. So, it's okay."
- "I don't know who created/posted it. So, it's okay."
- "It didn't have a copyright symbol or line on it. So, it's okay."
These are all very common misconceptions.
It's always better to assume you do not have the right to use an image and seek direct, written permission from the creator for the use you wish. Realize some artists/designers/photographers may simply not want to support your venture.
If you wish to "edit so it's okay" then you need to edit to the extent that the original image(s) are completely unrecognizable. And, at that point, what's the purpose of using the imagery?
There are avenues to find images which are permitted for use.
There are questions here regarding it:
And there are even questions with some resources:
In short, there are avenues for images which you can legally use. There's little point to infringing upon the intellectual property rights of others.
I do believe this would fall under what would be considered a "derivative work".
Though the new image consists of copyright protected material, this derivative work is an amalgamation of the originals, and so long as it does not (a) directly infringe on another artists creation and (b) any single image within the collage does not implicity compete with the original due to it's prominence within the collage, you should be safe.
However, I am not a lawyer so this is simply my interpretation of the law and how derivatives work.
A common example of a protected work that is a derivative:
You can look into this term and find a whole host of information to assist you in making your final decision.