Stock photography, references and legal pitfalls

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    gtgauvin's Avatar
    gtgauvin is offline 3rd-level Artist with a +1 pencil and a Printer of Scanning
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    Stock photography, references and legal pitfalls

    OK, I've been angsting about something these past couple days. In my sketchbook, I've been doing some figure studies to try and improve my anatomy drawing. In looking for new sources of images with which to practice, I came across an abundance of really great stock photographs on the Deviantart website. Thing is, after reading the respective photographers' terms of use, I started to get kind of worried about all the stipulations they put on the uses of their images. Don't get me wrong, I'm not grousing about the fact that the Deviantartists want to retain control over their own images, or expect credit when their images are used, but it's opened up a whole can of worms in my mind as to

    Please allow me to explain by means of analogy: say I'm an illustrator working for Marvel ( kind of a stretch, but just play along, OK?). They've contacted me to do a cover for an issue of Spider Man. I do my thumbnails, I decide on a composition that'll look good, and I go in to do the final piece. For the sake of realism, I decide to use some photos as reference. I go online and find a picture of a model posing in a similar pose to what I'm trying to accomplish for my cover.

    So, I download it and refer to the image as I'm doing the underdrawing for the final piece. Bear in mind that this is not a photomanipulation or a collage: no part of the original image is being used in my cover art and no attempt is being made to replicate or even be derivative of the photo in question. The medium has been changed, and the image I've created is an original work (well, aside from the fact that I'm legally depicting a character that someone else created 46 years ago). Do I bear any responsibility, legal or otherwise, to the photographer who snapped the photo? The only use I've made of his or her work is as visual inspiration for how physical bodies behave in the real world.

    Would this be considered Fair Use? Any good resources for legal precedents or resources on copyright law which might clarify this point? Thanks in advance.

    "I always did want to be a hero...and a liar!"


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  3. #2
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    if it can be claimed that you used the picture and a great enough similarity can be drawn from it, then you can be caught for copyright infringement

    get a cheapy camera and get someone to pose for you, or pay for the licence

    if you just want to use them for personal use as a study and not for a commercial peice then email them and ask if its ok

    though if no one is going to see it use your own judgement

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