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Using Pictures That Are Not Your Own Answered

I didn't think it was okay to include images pulled from the web in your own Instructable. 
I'm not planning to either way, but it seems to be acceptable.  Could someone clarify?  Thanks!


The best option is to use your own pictures, obviously, since you are showing off your own work. I agree that it is completely unacceptable to use other people's images of similar projects instead of taking your own, especially of the finished item.

However, there occasions when it is impossible to take a suitable image, or a diagram is required for explanation. In that case, if a suitable image is available on the web, and it is legal to do so, then it is acceptable to use it with proper accreditation.

Then there are the projects that are unphotographable (?), such as my own "How to relax" - in that case, illustrative images, such as clipart, is fine.

Finally, there are the humorous instructables, not intended to be taken seriously, entered into contests, or even followed - in that case, googled images are also fine. For instance, for my own "How to be a Great White Hunter in the privacy of your own home", I used images that were deliberately out of scale to the subject of the project - whilst, in reality, you're hunting flies, in your mind you're hunting enormous predators...

Which is a long way to say; "you are correct, but there are occasional exceptions".

Your "Napier’s Bones" piece uses a diagram that may or may not be taken from somewhere else, but the pictures that follow make it unique and engaging. Your hand drawing is far more charming than a stock photo or clip art : )

All due respect, in regards to the two you cite, I do think that original pics would have made those Instructables stronger. You don’t have dead tigers laying around your house (presumably) but recreating the hunting scene with toys would be cute! If it is possible to illustrate with clipart, or at all, isn’t it then technically possible to create an image of that thing oneself in some form?

There may very well be exceptions, but how are those determined?

Since the rules and terms seem to say that you cannot do this, what makes those exceptions okay, legally? (Aside from using images from a site that explicitly grants permission)

I’m not trying to attack with these questions at all. I am genuinely curious. Copyright and intellectual property issues (especially online) are an interest of mine. And if this site were a non-profit ‘Information wants to be free’ sort of thing, I could get behind that, but it isn’t.

For example, Instructables says that the author is responsible for securing rights to content and by submitting it, is giving the site those rights to reprint. If I entered something that very clearly was over-the-top not mine (a well known work, celebrity pics, film/TV content) is Instructables legally responsible as the distributor, or would it really fall back 100% back to the author?

Does anyone happen to know of any recent cases/decisions?

Basically, the reason this is my new issue is that I have been debating if I should post a new Instructable to a contest or not. I am pretty sure at this point that I should not. If I feel that the terms of the site are being violated, I’ll just be more upset about it if I have any kind of stake in it. And should one of those entries win, I will most likely complain again and thus, look like a jerk and possibly detract from someone else’s enjoyment of winning.

Thank you for indulging my especially lengthy ‘thinking out loud’ session : )

>If I entered something that very clearly was over-the-top not mine (a well known work, celebrity pics, film/TV content) is Instructables legally responsible as the distributor, or would it really fall back 100% back to the author?

That's an interesting question. In the TOS, Ibles says it won't be held responsible, but of course that doesn't mean it *can't* be held responsible in court. I should do a fastcase search and see what the precedents are...

I'm going to guess that it would only be held responsible if a breach of copyright was reported and they did not act.

Yes. In almost all cases, a C&D order must be sent before a suit can be filed.

The Bones diagram is my own, drawn up as a teaching resource. The hand sketches stand in the stead of what I draw on my board to explain the process.

Regarding the hunting scenes, toys would not have given the "feel" I was after (stiff-up-lip-colonial-Brit vs kid-chasing-insects). Plus, stuffed animals are not my "scene", and Kitewife has a general desire not to have our personal space published on the web (my shed is a different matter).

I don't know of anybody being prosecuted, or even threatened with prosecution, over images alone, but projects do get removed (by our own admins) if the author lifts images from elsewhere and pretends they are of their own project. I remember a classic case of a member who found a wonderful project detailed on another website, and decided to post it here as if it were his own work. He did not realise that the other website had ripped it off Instructables in the first place, since it was one of our all-time most popular projects.

I cannot bring to mind any contest-winners without original images, but, if you think an entry is using non-original images unfairly, do not hesitate to contact the admins or one of the usual faces to bring it to their attention.  If you are concerned that you may be making false accusations, or spoiling the spirit of a contest, you can contact them privately by PM or email.

Regarding liability, the TOS (7a, e & f) clearly states that any such liability is solely that of the individual posting it.  If you break the terms of a licence, or breach copyright, you get everything you deserve (if you get caught). 

Thank you for another thoughtful and detailed response : )

I am still stuck on Section 7d since it doesn't seem like one can grant what one doesn't have. That's what mainly suggests to me that the images are original or very openly under fair use, so I can't really determine what is okay or not to incorporate.

Legality aside, using a bunch of pictures one finds on the web just seems weird for a DIY site. But I'll just keep an eye on that contest to see if the community and judges think it's okay in some cases.

I don't actually know which entries you're talking about.

Could you PM their addresses?

You're supposed to photograph your own things, that's the idea.

Officially you are not to "Upload, post or otherwise transmit any content that infringes any patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright or other proprietary rights of any party"