Who Does She Think She Is?

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Posted by Joni in General

iStockPhoto.com just sent me (and my ISP) a nasty-gram saying that my free web templates are in violation of their EULA. They want them removed immediately. So guess I’m not going to be in the web design business anymore since most of my designs came from iStockPhoto.com.

Tell me, then, how iStockPhoto.com can hold itself out to be

an online stock photography database geared toward the professional web designer and developer


Am I missing something. I don’t know. Here is the attachment they sent me (it’s in Adobe PDF format) explaining their position. So for now, don’t expect any free web templates from me. And just wait until they get wind of some of the other web design sites out there also offering free web design templates based on images from iStockPhoto.com.

I was quite taken aback by this and shocked by the implication, since I thought that the key was “for resale” as a web template. If it’s free, then it’s not being sold is it?

Here are both my replies, sent this morning:

When I downloaded these images for use with web log templates, it was my understanding that the key was “for resale.” Since these web log templates are being offered free of charge to those who download them, I did not feel that I was violating any terms of use of these images. Can you please clarify this for me, as I thought the plain language of the licensing agreement “for resale” indicated to me that as long as I wasn’t charging a fee for these designs then I would be free to create a design based on them and then offer those designs free on my web site?

I await your reply.

Joni M. Mueller

cc: Global Internet (Attn: Manny Quintero)

And I also sent this, almost as an afterthought:

Also, Chris, are you telling me that EVERY IMAGE AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD on istockphoto.com is copyright protected in this way? If so, then explain how they can be used by professional web designers (such as myself) if they are not to be used for resale. In other words, if I design a web site using an image from istockphoto.com, and I /*charge my client for my services*/ (as I tend to do, since this is my livelihood), am I then also in violation of the EULA? Doesn’t this tie the hands of web designers, the very people iStockPhoto is catering to?

Maybe I’m just dense, but I don’t understand this. Thanks for your patience.

Joni Mueller

cc: Global Internet (Attn: Manny Quintero)

I just came from the iStockPhoto.com forum where it appears that even still, this new policy is causing confusion at the least and consternation (and worse) at most. It seems that if the image from iStockPhoto is embedded in such a way in the design that it cannot be extracted by the end user, then it is “okay.” Yet, the common thread pervading the forum is that “templates suck” and template designers are bottom feeders and templates never have and never will be an acceptable use on iStockPhoto.com. Yet, I read and re-read that EULA when I first started downloading from iStock a year ago and I never saw anything there that would have remotely suggested to me that it was wrong as long as it wasn’t “for resale.”

And about the “new” EULA itself, it seems that there was NEVER any notice posted at iStockPhoto.com warning of an impending change or calling to the attention of site visitors the change to the EULA as would be courteous and as even e-Bay and my bank do when policies change. Yeesh.


  1. Gesundheit

    Hi there. I am a contributing photographer for iStockPhoto.com. I have read the comments above and believe that many of you are misunderstanding what the purpose of iStockPhoto.com is. iStockPhoto.com is a royalty free site, which basically means that designers can do the following:

    Use the image in virtually any kind of promotional item : websites, advertising, packaging, personal projects, CD or DVD packaging, film and video presentations, multimedia presentations, commercials, books, etc. They can also make one back-up copy.

    They cannot do the following: Use images in templates for resale (e.g. flash templates, website templates, brochure templates, powerpoint templates), display images larger than 640 x 480 on the web, superficially modify the content, plunk it on a t-shirt, mug, poster, template or other item, and sell it to others for consumption, reproduction or resale.

    The whole point of this is to protect the photographer. iStockPhoto.com is one of the best “royalty free” site in the world, and it works for a reason. Templates is not one of them – now don’t get me wrong – template web sites don’t suck, and are not evil. But royalty-free stock photos aren’t for them.

    The contributing photographers work very hard and get paid very little (thus, “royalty free”). I don’t think that designers would want to make a cool web site, and then have someone turn around, convert it to a template, and then sell it to other people.

    The folks at iStockPhoto.com are pretty good. If you call them, or email them questions on what you want to do with the images, they would be happy to answer. Sometimes there is a fine line between what is acceptable and what isn’t. Just thought I’d throw my comments in since it was getting one sided. :)



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