Can I use a photo of me taken by AFP/Getty Images?

I am applying for a Apple WWDC Scholarship. I want to use this image in a app that will not be distributed. Only Apple employees will see this. I could potentially receive a ticket (no monetary value). Does this count as commercial?

  • 3
    Is the WWDC Scholarship being pursued for personal or business reasons? If personal, it sounds like it would be a personal use rather than a commercial one, but when it doubt, best to contact them and ask. They also go in to a little more detail here about what they consider commercial use.
    – AJ Henderson
    Apr 5, 2014 at 3:25
  • to make it even more complicated a WWDC has a huge resale value on ebay. Apr 5, 2014 at 12:24
  • 1
    A ticket might Paul but the scholarship I would recieve could not be transferred to anyone else
    – user27244
    Apr 6, 2014 at 2:45
  • @AaronRaimist I think Paul's implication is not that you might sell it, but that even though your ticket nominally has no monetary value, it includes things (like WWDC attendance) that do have considerable monetary value.
    – mattdm
    Mar 16, 2015 at 19:20

3 Answers 3


I'm not a lawyer, but my armchair opinion is: not legally, no. You don't hold the copyright, and there is no special exception in the law for subjects. In fact, consider that this is how many photographers earn their living: selling photographs to the people photographed.

In this case, if you look at the licensing options for that photo, I see choices for "internal, corporate digital use, for N months". It's not peanuts and probably more than you would like to pay out of pocket. Maybe Apple will take it on for you? Otherwise, maybe best to get a friend to take a new snapshot for you and give you permission to use that.


AFAIK copyright is initially owned by the person who snapped the image, which is not you. You, being one of the subjects, can sign a release, stating that you permit certain or all uses of the photo. Your release is one of the releases needed for the photo to be used commercially - all identifiable individuals need to provide similar releases for the photo to be "clean" to use. Strictly speaking a photo without all releases still may be used. However in that case other people who did not sign release may sue the photo publisher if they object to a specific use, or feel they should be paid for being in an image. As a matter of policy most sane businesses do not want to take risk of dealing with images lacking signed releases.

This image's copyright is not owned by you or any of the people in the frame -but is owned by AFP. Nor does it mention free use (or may be I missed it) but specifically states that rights are managed (in license type field). In that case you should not use it without permission.

Practically you need to assess a chance being sued for your use of the image. Even if anyone on this or another site will tell you it should not be a problem, a safer route will be to register an account on Getty and contact their support our sales with exactly the description of intended use you provided here. Save a copy of their answer.

Getty's contacts are here: http://www.gettyimages.com/Corporate/ContactUs.aspx


Your use sounds to me like "fair use" of copyrighted material, which you can read about at this site: http://libguides.mit.edu/usingimages

you can also use this checklist to help you think it through: https://www.lib.umn.edu/copyright/fairthoughts

According to them and their interpretation of US Copyright law, there are four factors to consider:

  • Purpose of use

Nonprofit, educational, scholarly or research use; Transformative use: repurposing, recontextualizing, creating a new purpose or meaning

  • Nature or type of work

Published, fact-based content

  • Amount Used

Using only the amount needed for a given purpose; Using small or less significant amounts

  • Market Effect

If there would be no effect, or it is not possible to obtain permission to use the work

In order to make it more "fair", they suggest:

  • Use lower resolution or thumbnail versions where possible;
  • Place the image in a new context or use it for a new purpose; and
  • Use only the parts of the image needed for the purpose
  • So, to go through these criteria: purpose not for educational or research, nor transformative. Amount used: presumably 100%. Nature of work: fact-based, but not necessarily easy to reproduce. Market effect: clearly possible to get usage rights for an amount which could be seen as reasonable by a reasonable person. So, I'm curious — why do you think this would pass a fair use test?
    – mattdm
    Apr 6, 2014 at 1:48
  • 2
    IMHO it is strange to claim "fair use" in the use case where it is used to clear financial benefit of getting scholarship, intended to be used to demonstrate original context, so with a significant portion of the original (otherwise a phone selfie would do), while there are very clearly defined routes to obtain usage rights at a cost from Getty. I think fair use claim is a risky proposition. Apr 6, 2014 at 5:25
  • Ultimately the courts generally decide based upon the market effect, which is null. As far as I understand scholarships, they are not taxable i.e. not considered income. Furthermore, "This image/clip has no model or property release. Any commercial use requires additional clearance." I assume this means that neither Aaron nor his legal guardian approved this image.
    – denjello
    Apr 6, 2014 at 17:06
  • Furthermore, on page 4 of Getty's copyright 101 gettyimages.tekgroup.com/images/59/Copyright101.pdf it states: “Fair Use” or “Fair Dealing” doctrine allows limited copying of copyrighted works for education and research purposes. Am I wrong in assuming that a young man learning to make apps is not involved in an educational experience?
    – denjello
    Apr 6, 2014 at 17:07