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Using manufacturer's photos
Copyright issues?

 6:24 pm on Dec 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi - as a retail website, is it fine to use the product photographs that are on the manufacturer's website? I assume they wouldn't have a problem with this, as it will help to sell their product. Do you just email them and ask if it's okay to use or how do you handle that? Thanks!



 6:54 pm on Dec 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

Legally...it depends.

For pictures of manufactured products, some lawyers say that you can't even get a copyright on the picture because of "lack of aritistic" content. Other lawyers will say that just the act of taking a picture is enough to create a copyright.

Sometimes the manufactures license material for their product. (Think of audio CDs. The likeness of a performer, or the name of a performer can be copyrighted - Think the artist formerly known as Prince). In this case, the manufacturer may have no problem with you using their pictures, but the owner of the copyrighted work may. If this is the case, you may be better off finding out by phone as you are unlikely to get approval to use the images in writing.

In all cases, it depends on what amount of risk is acceptable to you. You can be completely in the clear legally, have everything in writing and still be sued. You would win the lawsuit, but still be out lawyers fees.


 7:21 pm on Dec 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

We use product photos from manufacturers' catalogs and even their websites and have never had a complaint. We don't bother to ask permission. Everyone else does it.
Most of our suppliers provide graphics on CDs nowadays.

Of course, this applies only to where I'm lifting a graphic of a "Branded Widget" product to sell Branded Widgets.

Sleazy sites will cop quality expensive photography (complete with models) from branded product sites to sell generic products. I think that's a clear copyright violation.

Can a photo be copyrighted? Try putting a Playboy centerfold on your site and see what they do to you. LOL

I do some of my own photography (NOT Centerfolds, alas). Takes me and hour or two to get one looking halfway good. I'd be furious if a competitor stole my
creation. Took me years to learn how to take and process graphics for the web. There's also the considerable equipment investment to make the pic.


 7:36 am on Dec 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

I would e-mail them so you at least have a record of the approval. From past experience, you tend to need more pictures since a manufacturer picture will not tell the entire story about the specific widget you want to sell. If you want better conversions, you'll have to take your own detailed photos.

Corey Bryant

 1:42 pm on Dec 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

Usually if you request their database, they will send the images to you as well. As the others have stated - ask them, via email or fax so you have it in writing



 2:12 pm on Dec 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

As long as you're using it to sell their products i doubt there will be a problem

Except if a supplier uses the manufacturer's name to distribute in another country and creates their own content/images


 1:03 am on Dec 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

I believe even if they do have a problem with you doing it, before they can do anything they have to send you a cease and desist letter demanding you remove them. Only if you don't can they proceed.


 11:21 am on Dec 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

In theory they don't have to send a Cease and Desist - it is not mandatory for copyright infringment, which this technically is. They could just sue you, although I think they'd have a hard time convincing a judge they'd suffered any damages.

That said we have always assumed that anyone who's product we resell won't mind us using their images - none of our suppliers sell their own products direct in our location, I'd be a little more cautious if they did.


 4:28 pm on Dec 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

as a retail website, is it fine to use the product photographs that are on the manufacturer's website?

They are the only ones you need to ask, assuming they own the copyright to the images. (There might be instances where they don't, but they are who I'd ask about that too - in the same sentence or two... something like "I assume you guys own the copyright to your product images. Do/Can I have permission to use those images to promote your products on my website(s)?")

Depending on the items, you might find that you can take better pictures yourself, that fit the style of your site.


 7:39 pm on Dec 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

Why would they complain if you are selling their products?

Corey Bryant

 1:40 am on Dec 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

[quote]Why would they complain if you are selling their products? Because of trademark, copyright, etc. Even though you are licensed to sell their products, services etc you stil need to check with them on using their images / name, etc


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