When creating a file, it can be incredibly useful to use assets that you didn’t create yourself. For example, many ActiveDen authors will buy stock photos to better showcase an image gallery they’re selling. Another good example is how ThemeForest authors will often use code libraries like jQuery to enhance their files.
To be able to use any asset that you didn’t create, you must have the appropriate license, including for use in previews. Remember, it’s the responsibility of the author to verify the copyright of assets used. Envato follows a DMCA procedure and items which are the subject of a DMCA notice will be taken down. There may be other consequences such as account disablement, freezing of funds, and potential legal action from copyright holders.
Assets in Preview Files vs. the Main Download
When you submit an item to the Envato marketplaces, you’ll always upload a preview as well as a main file. The preview files are only viewed online, whereas the main files are downloaded and distributed to hundreds and sometimes thousands of users. This makes the rules for using assets in each different, although assets still need to be licensed for preview use.
Assets in Preview Files
Assets used in preview files need to be properly licensed for such 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 download file. However you will still need a license for a commercial use (reproduction) within the preview file. It’s important to read each license carefully to make sure your intended use of the asset complies with the license terms.
Assets In the Main Download
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 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.
What if You’re Unsure About the License?
If you’re unsure whether the asset’s license allows you to use the asset in your preview or main download, ask either the license holder or a lawyer. Unfortunately, Envato support cannot help you interpret anyone else’s licenses. Again, it’s the responsibility of the author to verify the licenses of assets they use. When using any source for assets, whether free or paid, read and understand the license terms and confirm that your intended use complies with the license.
Do not use images obtained under a comping license from stock photos sites, even in previews. A comping license grants the user the right to use the image in an internal, unpublished use or to show a mock-up to a client. A comping license typically will not allow use of an image in a preview of a commercially available template or marketplace item.
Model release issues and use of images of ‘famous’ people
Do not use images of people, pets, or private property unless they are from sites which make available such images for commercial use (these sites need to have obtained model releases for commercial use of such images). If you’re unsure, check with the site whether they guarantee that such images are model released.Do not use images of actors, celebrities, professionals or others who rely on their image or persona to make a living. It is highly unlikely that these types of people will have ever provided model releases for general commercial use of their images.
What do I need to do in the Upload Process?
You will be asked in the upload process to check the box that says: “Any images, sounds, video, code, flash, or other assets that are not my own work, have been appropriately licensed for use in the file preview or main download. Other than these items, this work is entirely my own and I have full rights to sell it on [site].“
Assets You’re Welcome to Use
Here’s a list of assets you’re welcome to use in your preview and/or main download:
- Assets in the Envato Asset Library
- Your own work (however we may still ask for valid model or location release if your asset contains a recognizable human feature or private property).
- Someone else’s items available on Envato marketplace (preview only) – Let’s say you’d like to use a video from VideoHive in the preview of your WordPress theme. This helps you have a nicer looking preview and helps give other authors some extra exposure. This is acceptable as long as you:
- only include the watermarked preview
- only include it in the preview, not the main download
- clearly link to the file in your description
- state clearly that the file itself is not included in the main download
For use of another author’s item in a downloaded item, or in a preview without watermarking, you will need to license the item appropriately.
Other potential sources for assets
Other potential sources authors commonly use to source assets are:
- Stock libraries. As stated above, check the license terms carefully against your intended use of the asset. Avoid sources if you are not confident that the site has followed appropriate procedures in sourcing its assets. Even sites containing free images may put license terms on those images. Do not assume that all free images can be used for a commercial end-use; check the license terms.
- Flickr. If you choose to use Flickr as a source of images, either get clear written permission or a license from the Flickr author, or only use images that are made available for commercial use under a Creative Commons license. There are different Creative Commons licenses, and only some allow commercial use. In addition you will need to follow the attribution and licensing requirements under the Creative Commons license.
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