Can I use magazine images in my designs

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Can I use magazine images in my designs

Post by annavdf »

I currently design stationery and canvases for friends and family but I am thinking about starting up a small business selling them. In my designs I use images cut out of magazines (for example a pair of shoes or an accessory) and I don't know if copyright laws allow me to sell artwork which uses these?

Can someone please advise me if this is OK to do?

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Post by AndyJ »

Hi Anna,
Most of the images you find in magazines will be in copyright so using them causes problems, especially if you are planning to do this on a commercial basis. What you would be doing is making derivative works and generally that would require permission from the copyright holder if the part you want to use is a substantial part of their work. 'Substantial' is judged on a qualitative basis, so say you saw an advert for some women's shoes and wanted to use the bit with the shoes, that would probably judged as substantial since the sheos are the focus of the ad. But you found a picture of a celeb attending a red carpet event and just cropped out her shoes for your work, that might very well be seen as insubstantial because obviously the shoes are a minor part of the overall purpose of the image. But it is tricky trying evaluate what a court might decide in each case, and more to the point if you were unlucky enough to be taken to court by some disgruntled photographer or publisher, then that alone would cost you a fair bit in legal fees even if the court later decided there was no infringement.
I would suggest that you would be better off using micro-stock picture agencies or free clip art, or indeed if you have the resources, taking your own pictures and incorporating them into your work, as this removes any chance of infringement.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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