Alteration of stock images - licensing and what to avoid

I’m new to the forum and new to design. (see my recent hello post!)

I come from a photography and web design background so I like to think I’m fairly familiar with license restrictions. Since I have been using stock photos (rather than just shooting them) I have an odd question. Hopefully one of you find people can help.

I’ve recently been asked to produce some book covers for Kindle books. Finding suitable base images has not been a problem. I noticed in the licensing there are clauses about alteration and presenting stock images in a manner that would be defamatory to the model.

I get this in the broadest sense - for example attaching a recognisable person to a political message.

What I am unsure of is how this is applied to potentially altering a photo - so what if you wanted to add scars or such like. Is this consider a bad move and should be avoided or is there line to be avoided?

Sorry if this sounds a bit vague - hopefully I’ve covered enough!

This is the area where you need to be able to contact the stock photographer.
What you need is a model release. Most stock images do not have those. Or they are listed as no release. Doesn’t mean there isn’t one, just that one isn’t on file with the stock company. So you look at the photog’s bio, see if they have an online portfolio with a contact page, and shoot them an email or phone call.

At least, that’s what we do most often. And more often than not, the photog has that release available.

There is a problem with stock where people use aliases. I don’t spend very long looking for them. If I really want the image, I might do a reverse search to see if it pops up elsewhere, but not much beyond that.

You might want to check out

Cool I understand - I’m specifically using the Adobe stock standard license - so will fire a question to them and also check the model release status.


PS Looking and unsplash now

@Designia Even unsplash has a similar clause in their terms and conditions, see clause 8-C

Most if not all stock houses have similar language (even Creative Commons which you can see here) even though they place the onus on the person providing the image.

8C, this?
Upload, post, or publish any User Content that is unlawful, defamatory, libelous, objectionable, profane, indecent, pornographic, harassing, threatening, hateful, or otherwise inappropriate;

I use them all the time and always use a credit badge. If I was using it for a book cover however, I’d probably get in touch with the photographer.

Yup, can’t publish their images if objectionable, profane, indecent, etc. Once again, most stock houses have similar clauses because even if a model has signed a release (let’s say I am the model) and I see a photo of myself on a book implying I’m a child molester, rapist, murderer, etc. or someone photoshops horns over my likeness, etc. I’m probably going to take them to court. By having those clauses in their EULAs, it protects the photographers and models.

Which is essentially what Bruce is asking. Not as extreme as my examples but he is trying to understand how much he can do or how he can use he images in a way that may be pushing the line in a way.

I think that’s good summary from Craig. I read through several sites T&Cs and that was the consensus.

My current job was to produce a cover for a dystopian/horror involving a plague. That lead me to start my research. I’ve suggested to the client we do something different and they’re fine with it. The new plan is to use the same base image and work it up as clouded ink/oil paint image on a distressed canvas. It will still fit the genre, and give no cause for offence (definitely no horns!).

Overall as I currently understand it - cut out, tint, retouch all okay. “Content” (for want of a better word) changes are potentially a problem.

In case it’s of use to anyone:
I checked on Adobe and it appears anyone submitting is required to supply release for commercial or editorial use (I normally submit to Alamy and they expect you to have one, but not necessarily supply - that said I don’t supply people images). On the standard license a print run of 500,000 and an equivalent number of views on electronic media (basically ebooks) is covered.

Really appreciate the input on this and if I’ve got anything wrong above feel free to correct it.

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