I have taken some photos and I want to allow free commercial use but not allow re-distribution. More specifically what I want to do is to allow people to use them on their own ( commercial or otherwise) websites but not allow them to be sold on or used for instance by a developers who is creating websites or themes/templates.

Are there any licences which might cover this? I have looked at GPL, Creative commons and Art Licence but none seem to fit the bill.


All the "open" licenses are all about distribution, I don't believe you'll find what you are looking for there.

Just about all stock photo sites/agencies have just such a license, but unfortunately you can't use their licenses without permission.

You can try to find a smaller site that is run by one person (or very few) and ask nicely to use their license (I have no idea if this will work, but I assume that in any large site with dedicated support department you won't be able to contact someone who can give you that permission).

You can get a lawyer and tell them you want something like the license of your favorite stock photo site, maybe this will get the license written more quickly (and therefor cheaply) - or maybe not, depending on the lawyer.

And as always with legal advice: I'm not a lawyer, don't take legal advice from strangers on the internet, etc.

  • Thanks. I understand what you are saying anyway. Makes sense and very helpful. Dec 4 '12 at 23:54

I am not a lawyer.

Put your images on your own web site, with a notice that says exactly that:

Non-transferable license is granted to you, the downloader of this image, to use this image in any work or compilation, and for any purpose, including commercial purposes, except for the purpose of resale or inclusion in a product that is resold to a third party.

Any time you grant license to someone else, they don't have authorization to transfer that license to anyone else, unless expressly granted in the license (with some exceptions, particularly where copyright law and contract law overlap).

  • I'm also not a lawyer, but I think that if the intent is to say that it can't be used in a theme or template, that needs to be more clear, as one could reasonably argue that putting the image into a theme is "using this image for any reason", and that permission for other people to subsequently use the image in that theme is implied. (Just as it's implied that someone may use the image on a website including allowing visitors to that site to download the image to their computer for the purpose of viewing it.)
    – mattdm
    Dec 6 '12 at 21:50
  • @mattdm: You are probably right. A lawyer would recognize that "Non-transferable" means the image cannot be transferred, but your average lay person wouldn't. Some clarification should be made. But the basic point is: A license can say whatever you want it to say.
    – Flimzy
    Dec 6 '12 at 22:07

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