I have downloaded small image that I want to use it on my website but I have to buy it and really I couldn't do that. Also I want to do some changes in it.

The question: If I downloaded the image and made some changes with Photoshop, do I still need to follow the license or buy the image?

I mean I already changed it so it's not the same image that they have.

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    I am wondering why this question got downvoted, it's a really bad idea but it's definitely useful material for people who consult this site. – curious Dec 18 '15 at 23:48
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    I like to refer to this blogpost: waxy.org/2011/06/kind_of_screwed – curious Dec 18 '15 at 23:49
  • Legally? Yes. Ethically? Yes. Will you get in trouble if you don't? Maybe, maybe not. – DA01 Dec 18 '15 at 23:51

Your question contains a very delicate topic: plagiarism...! As you guess, that's not very ethical and safe to copy images online and modify them, to then use them for commercial projects. Especially if you are totally aware of what you're doing and know a license is easily available.

"Making changes" is quite a relative term. It would be hard to judge what you did exactly and if you made enough changes to make the original image unrecognizable just by using the details from your question.

Finally, we can't really give you precise advice unless we can at least see the before and after of the image you're talking about; plus it's legal advice that fall in a gray zone where there's no precise guidelines (eg. infringement). What can be done is at least tell you objectively if your logo looks plagiarized or not.

Some big clues to help you:

  • If you put the original and modified versions next to each others, is it easy for anyone to see the second image is built using the first one? If yes, buy the license.
  • Also, if you remove what you copied from the original image and replace it by another custom design you did, will that logo still work or do you absolutely need to use the original image to achieve a similar result? If it doesn't work, buy the license. If you can use any other graphic to replace the copied image then maybe you'll be fine. Note that I put the "maybe" in bold since you could still receive a cease and desist letter and there could still be infringement!

There's unfortunately no magical formula to this.

Finally, even if you do buy the license, make sure to read the terms.

Some licenses are not meant to be used on commercial projects as you want to use it for. In general, it's wiser and safer to build a logo from scratch and do some research to avoid any issue.

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    Wouldn't it be just easier to say no you cant do this. In theory and practice you can bet away with it. But it is still derivative work and you know it. Simply put starting form scrtach is much harder than starting from a template and copyright demands you to start form scratch even if you implement the same idea. Simply put its their image if you didn't start form a blank canvas according to copyright. And its still plagiarizing even if you did. – joojaa Dec 18 '15 at 21:48
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    @joojaa That's what first and last sentences of my answer say :) And in-between are the kind of thing a judge would look at to decide if there's infringement or not. As for using "template", the twitter logo is a good example of a clipart used as logo and everything was done in a legal way. There's also banks of logos sold online, but we don't know exactly if this is a logo from that kind of bank here. – go-junta Dec 18 '15 at 21:51
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    Yes but the message gets lost in the maybe between. For OP rest assured that you will know doing wrong for original author. – joojaa Dec 18 '15 at 21:52
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    @chipbuddy Not really, especially if you are aware you're copying someone's else work! – go-junta Dec 18 '15 at 21:53
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    It sounds as though you are looking for some supposed authority to give you permission. I don't think go-junta (or anyone really) can be that authority except the copyright holder. Beyond that you are on your own – Yorik Dec 18 '15 at 22:43

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