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I have been looking for illustrations for the commercial website I'm building and I am a bit confused by some license terms and would like to know if someone with experience could answer.

Flaticon makes it pretty clear that websites and blogs are part of its license:

You are authorized to use Flaticon images for your own blog and website as main or secondary elements.

On the other hand, Adobe Stock states the following restrictions in its terms, section 7)1)A :

use the Stock Assets in any way that allows a third party to use, download, extract or access the Stock Assets (1) as a stand-alone file

and the same for VectorStock for example in its FAQ, section 1)b :

Content is strictly prohibited from being used where there is the potential for the file to be downloaded, copied in any way or extracted, reinstated or restored by a third party.

In my mind, it is fairly easy for anyone using the devtools to extract the image as a separate file. How does this licensing work then ? In one place they say that we can use at will on websites (for ex on Abode 3.1 section "audience size does not apply to Works displayed only on websites, social media sites, or mobile applications"), but in the restrictions that we should protect the media.

Are devtools considered a workaround protecting us enough ?

Thanks to anyone with experience in that domain !

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  • IF the image has a licence that complies with the open-source definition then you can use the image in a commercial web-site. However not of the sites that you mention seem to have an open-source complaint license. The first one may be nearly open-source, but is a custom licence. The over two violate the freedom to use, without restriction clause. – ctrl-alt-delor Sep 8 '20 at 19:15
  • Try using cc-search ccsearch.creativecommons.org – ctrl-alt-delor Sep 8 '20 at 19:18
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    I’m voting to close this question because it is mostly about the restrictions of non-free/open source licenses. – curiousdannii Sep 9 '20 at 8:04
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Bearing in mind that we're a free software website, and that our answers may well be tinged by a deep belief that freedom is good, a quick perusal of those terms brings one thing clearly to my mind: these are commercial services, and they want your money. They allow you to make some fettered uses of their stock images, but eventually, you hit their line in the sand, and they want paying.

Flaticon's terms aren't too bad. They say that with a standard licence you may use the content:

  • For commercial and personal projects
  • On digital or printed media
  • For an unlimited number of times and perpetually
  • Anywhere in the world
  • To make modifications and derived works

You're required to attribute them, in a particular way, but that at least absolves you if someone else grabs the image and uses it in a non-compliant way: the fault is clearly the grabber's.

But Adobe's terms, as you've seen, say that with a standard licence you may

  • Post the asset to a website or social media site with no limitation on views

but at the same time you may not

  • Distribute the stand-alone file

I have no idea how you're supposed to do that. If you put the image up on your webserver and put it on a page with a simple <img src=...> tag, which is as simple a definition of "post the asset to a website" as I can imagine, then you've just distributed the standalone file, and are in violation. You've identified a similar problem with "the devtools": once an image file is served to a client over the web, then unless the server bends over backwards to make it hard, it's very easy indeed for the client to save a copy. That's how the web works.

If you want to do anything of interest with Adobe stock images, pay the money. VectorStock may well be the same, though I haven't looked - and of course IANAL/IANYL. Flaticon is slightly more reasonable in what you can do before you're obliged to pay. Much better would be to go to Wikimedia Commons, where you can get sixty-million-plus images, all of which are distributed under properly-free licences.

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  • Thanks for the detailed answer ! Wikimedia Commons and cc-search as suggested by @ctrl-alt-delor seem like great resources to use as well. For the record as well, I emailed VectorStock's support and they replied > Yes you can use our images in this way with the Standard License That's enough for me for now, but I would recommend anyone using their service to have that email exchange in their records as well. – micaste Sep 10 '20 at 7:42
  • @micaste you're welcome. By the way, when you're satisfied with an answer to this question, you should accept it by clicking the tick outline, which puts the question to bed, and drives the reputation system on the site; my apologies if you already know this. – MadHatter Sep 10 '20 at 7:45

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