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I know there has been a lot of discussion about copyright laws regarding photos taken off the internet...and I don't know how much this will help anyone, but I figured it would be good to post anyway...there is a website, istockphoto, there have pictures of just about everything, and what they told me when I asked them about using images for commercial use, or using images for commercial use that I messed around with in photoshop/gimp/whatever program you are using is that I could either purchase the commercial license and have the freedom to print that image on 2,000 products, or if I used the image to create a "permitted derivitive" it would have to so different that no part of the new image could be recognized as the original, and that the original artist would not be able to recognize it as their own work. Not a lot of clarity, I know, but I thought I'd share regardless.
 

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I think basically, if you use a pic from the net, then you have to alter it so much to the point that the original owner can't recognize it. Even if the owner found out that you used their pic, it would not hold up in court because it's so different from the original.

Lets say you need to have a pic of a man with their mouth open (for some reason).
Look for a pic on google of a man with their mouth open.
You find one. You can't just print that on a shirt.
Lets say you photoshop the pic..
-Make his noise a little smaller
-change his eye expression.
-put more wrinkles on his face.
-change the colour of his hair.
-up a hat on him.

Then there would be no proof that that is the original owner photo, i could be just similar and would not stand in court.

I believe this is the case.

as for just finding a pic and using that, i believe you would need to buy out the owner, or alteast even asks the owner for their permission.
 

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Would it be illegal to use a picture from say Instagram, Facebook and etc.?
Of course it would be illegal. It would be copyright infringement. You need to get permission from the copyright owner to use the image. And depending on the content of the image, there could be trademark and right of publicity issues too.
 

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1. the reason why stock art is so prevalent in design work now (in particularly with people in the images) is because of the model/property release. taking a photo off instagram or facebook could face you in legal trouble not because of copyright infringement but because it is a civil issue involving privacy and could cost you a hunk of cheddar if you don't secure the release.

2. Appropriation and adaptation are two different things when it comes to finding reference. Appropriation could land you in copyright infringement areas adaptation almost rarely does. never appropriate, always adapt and change the image. don't follow that 2 or 3 thing 'rule' or 10 or 20% notion ... change the image drastically.
 
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