- What are watermarked assets?
- Can I use watermarked assets from the Envato marketplace in my own marketplace file preview?
- Can I use assets from the Envato marketplace without a watermark?
- Can I use unlicensed (watermarked or otherwise) content from other sites in my item previews?
- What if I license an asset on another site, can I use it in my previews?
- What about videos? Can I embed a Vimeo or YouTube clip in my item preview?
- So what’s the issue?
- Can I use photos of famous people in my items?
- So what should I look for when finding images?
- What if I took the photo, the photo is public domain, or the celebrity is not alive?
- Can I use Creative Common assets any way I like?
- What to avoid
- What about open source assets?Can I use them any way I like?
- Is there anything I need to look out for when using Creative Commons licenses?
- What about open source and GPL and split licensing?Is there anything about this stuff I need to look out for when using open source assets?
When you’re creating items for our marketplaces it can be incredibly useful to use assets that you didn’t create to showcase your item. For example, you’ve created an awesome slider for a website banner and you want to populate the slider with some nice photos. Another example might be if you’ve created a logo reveal and want a cool audio track to play during your item’s preview. This article will explain what assets you can use in your items and some IP issues you’ll need to be aware of. Before we get stuck into the juicy details keep in mind the 2 rules of thumb which are:
- You should only use assets in your items that you own or have a license to use.
- You can also use watermarked Envato marketplaces assets in your item previews, if you give the other author credit.
When we’re talking about assets we mean things like photos, illustrations, videos, code or music (and so on) that may form a part of your item, or item preview. Your item is what you actually license on our marketplaces.
Many items on Envato marketplaces have a preview as well as a main file. The preview files are only viewed online, whereas the main files are downloaded and distributed to buyers. This makes the rules for using assets in each the preview and main files different, although assets still need to be licensed for preview use if you haven’t used watermarked Envato marketplaces assets.
When we talk about item previews, this picks up previews and live demos of a marketplace item, regardless of where they are hosted. Assets used in item previews need to be properly licensed for commercial use. Because the asset is not being resold or redistributed, you will not need a re-sale or re-distribution license as you would for use of that asset in the main file. However you will still need a license for a commercial use (reproduction) for use within the preview. It’s important to read each license of any asset you’re intending to use carefully to make sure your use of the asset complies with the license terms.
Can I use watermarked assets from the Envato marketplace in my own item’s preview?
Yes, you may use watermarked Envato marketplace items (with the Envato watermark) in this way:
- You do not need to ask permission of the other author of the watermarked asset.
- You can only use the watermarked asset in your item preview, not the download file.
- You need to credit the author of the watermarked asset and link back to the original asset page in your item description.
Can I use assets from the Envato marketplace without a watermark?
Yes you can if you buy a Regular License. This will allow you use the asset you’ve purchased in your item preview – you don’t need to use the watermark, and you don’t need to credit the author or provide a link back (but it’s always nice to credit your fellow authors if you want to!).
Can I use unlicensed (watermarked or otherwise) content from other sites in my item previews?
No. You cannot use unlicensed assets. Almost all stock services and any assets sourced from search engines do not give you the right to use any file even if you leave the watermark in (and Envato does not allow watermarks from others in marketplace previews).. Don’t forget that you are responsible for ensuring you have the correct license for all assets you want to use in your items.
What if I license an asset on another site, can I use it in my previews?
Yes you can use the asset in your item preview, if you have licensed it from a service which gives you the right to use the asset in your item preview, that is a commercial use license. Again, you are responsible for ensuring you have the correct license to use the asset in the way you intend.
What about videos? Can I embed a Vimeo or YouTube clip in my item preview?
Yes, generally. Check the terms of the video sharing site; YouTube and Vimeo allow clips to be embedded even for commercial use under certain conditions. Although a video sharing site might technically allow you to embed a video you still need to consider the content of the video you’ve chosen. Ask yourself: is the content appropriate for use in my item preview? Just like you would for a still image, consider whether the video content contains trade marks, objects that might be under copyright, and identifiable people. All these things might not have been cleared or released for your particular use in an item preview.
To be able to use an asset in your main download (the ZIP that gets distributed to the buyers), you must have the rights to resell the asset. Though having the right to resell is usually enough, always read the license of the asset you’re using carefully to make sure there’s nothing else that might prohibit you from distributing the asset. For example, check whether the asset can be distributed in any format, or whether it needs to be incorporated into your item such that it cannot be extracted by end users on a stand-alone basis.
Using photos of people in your item previews is a great way to liven them up and make it real to buyers. In short, because there are a few things to consider, we think the best way to get images of people is from reputable stock photography “commercial use” collections like PhotoDune or other commercial stock libraries. It’s of course your responsibility to make sure your photos are properly licensed and contain appropriate content.
So what’s the issue?
There are different rights people have to control the use of photos of themselves. These include rights of publicity, rights of privacy and consumer protection laws. These rights are separate to the intellectual rights in the actual photo file itself. So, if Louise takes a photo of John, Louise would own the copyright in the photo itself. But John may have a say in how the image of him is then used.This is why your marketplace items need to use only ‘model released’ images. This generally means that identifiable people in the image have consented to their photo being used in any way – editorial or commercial.
Can I use photos of famous people in my items?
No. To keep things simple, think of marketplace items and their previews as a commercial activity. So that means, no photos of famous people, sportspeople, musicians, DJs or anyone else who earns their living from having a public presence (even if these people are no longer alive). Photos like these can be used in ‘editorial’ situations like a news website or blog, but the approach on the marketplaces is to keep them out of marketplace items.
So what should I look for when finding images of people?
You should always check licenses and terms and conditions on the sites where you are looking for images. If you’re not sure whether images on a site are model released, ask the site. Also, be aware that some sites have ‘editorial’ collections, which won’t be suitable for use in your commercial marketplace items or their previews. You’ll need a license that allows commercial re-distribution. If the photo is for use in your item preview only, then you still need a commercial use license but not necessarily one that allows re-distribution.
What if I took the photo or the photo is public domain?
We’re not talking here about a PhotoDune or VideoHive author, as stock photo and stock video footage have their own detailed model release requirements. What we’re talking about is if you take your own photos for use within other marketplace items. In this case, you’ll need to get your own model releases from the people in them. We’re not expecting you to submit the releases to us, and you can decide how formal the model release is.
If a photo is in the public domain, that means the copyright in the photo has expired, but that doesn’t necessarily affect the rights of the person in the photo. The same issues about people images will apply.
Licensing can be a complex business! That’s why Creative Commons and open source were founded to help give content creators an easy way to distribute their work while specifying some simple factors such as whether the work could be used commercially or modified. For our marketplace users, CC and open source licensed materials can be a great source of assets to use in item previews and even main files. This section explains what kinds of licenses you should be looking for, where to find content, and what to avoid.
Can I use any Creative Common assets any way I like?
No. Every CC license has a short name and description which explains in a simple way what that license allows a person to do. There is also a full legal license if you wish to read it thoroughly. Not all CC licenses are appropriate for content that you intend to use in or on a marketplace item, so you have to pay attention to the license type.
The licenses you CAN use with marketplace items are:
Some important things to understand are:
- Attribution – When this is present you must attribute and link back to the original item. So you would put attribution and a link back in your item description or item documentation (depending on where you’ve used the asset). Attribution typically says something like “Photo by Joe Photographer” with a link to the page or portfolio where the item came from.
- Commercial – The licenses above can be used for commercial purposes. All non-commercial CC licenses explicitly say so. Make sure to avoid any license that says non-commercial.
- Public Domain – Creative Commons provides a public domain mark. The public domain isn’t technically a Creative Commons license, but the mark is a convenience offered by the organization for content creators.
What to Avoid
Avoid the non-commercial CC licenses such as the Attribution-Noncommercial CC BY -NC license. Also avoid CC licenses that contain the ShareAlike term such as the Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY -SA license. ShareAlike licenses mean that the work you are creating (i.e. the your marketplace item ) needs to also be licensed under the same ShareAlike license. This isn’t appropriate for our marketplaces where the Envato licenses apply.
And avoid licenses with the NoDerivs - ND term. The way the - ND license terms are written, all that is allowed is format shifting of items, and compiling items into collections (like an anthology). Remixing or adaptations are not allowed, and that would include using an item within your marketplace item (even if you don’t alter the CC item itself).
Also remember to consider the content of the CC asset, like visible people in photos.
When you use free assets such as CC assets, you are taking some risk that the person making the asset available actually owns and created the asset, and didn’t themselves take the asset from elsewhere. Use your common sense when finding CC assets.
Where can I find CC assets?
There are a lot of sites that index their content according to what CC license the creator has granted. Most famous of all is Flickr, but the list also includes some YouTube videos, Jamendo for music, Fotopedia, Wikimedia Commons and the Open Clip Art Library.
Happily there is a really easy way to search these libraries for Commercial CC licenses using the Creative Commons search page with a check in the box to find content that can be used for ‘commercial purposes’. You can start searching CC content here.
What about open source assets? Can I use them any way I like?
No, not in any way you like! Open source assets have licenses attached to them, so please read the license terms first. Like creative common assets, this is a common misconception that because something is ‘open source’ it’s free and I can do whatever I like with that asset. This is not the case. It is true that anything licensed as ‘open source’ should have some common elements outlined here but the specific licenses vary in what they do and don’t allow.
What about open source, GPL and split licensing?
We’ve written about split licensing and the GPL and what it all means on our marketplaces here.
What other IP issues do I need to know about?
As we’ve explained in some detail above, using assets in your items, both in a preview and in the main download file, needs your close attention. Always remember that you can only use assets in your items that you own or have a license to use. It’s your responsibility to make sure you’ve used any assets in your items legally and only in the proper way. You may consider using Creative Commons and open source assets, which of course still need to be considered carefully.
There are other IP issues that you can read about relating to copyright and the DMCA process here. In addition, there’s also the issue of trademarks and logos that have their own set of rules as well as more detail about model and property releases which you can read about here.