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Selling ebooks with purchased images in them

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I am looking to sell a donwloadable ebook on my website. I had purchased images from various photo stock websites and included them in the eBook is this ok. Also how do I know if the graphic designer had stolen any of the work for other designers? Is there some sort of copyscape program or tool that I could use. The concern is that this eBook sells a lot of copies and all of a sudden I find out than an element of it was copied and they want damages times the number of eBooks sold?

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Attorney answers 4


Q:"I had purchased images from various photo stock websites and included them in the eBook is this ok"
Answer: Depends on your agreement with the stock photo website. If your license was just for personal use, the book use is not included. If use in commercial publications is allowed, then the e-book use is likely okay. The stock company can certainly tell you, so check with them.

Q:"Also how do I know if the graphic designer had stolen any of the work for other designers?"
Answer: You may never know. That is not a legal question, as the legal question is how to you protect yourself best legally. One solution is to have the graphic designer warrant the work and to use a solvent designer who could stand behind the warranty if you were sued.

You can also get business insurance.

I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.



So in terms of the graphic designer it would offer me more legal protection if I hired a large firm vs a freelancer? As they would have more to loose if they used copied work? The other thing is I am trying to create a new domain name. Is this best way to avoid a trademark infingment to use a very generic domain name? As for the busniess insurance I need to ask if it covers copyright / trademark claims anything else to ask if it is specifically covered?


It is not clear from your post if you are the author of the ebook or acting as a publisher. Assuming that you are the author, typically photo stock websites do not sell their photos, they license the rights to the same. Such photos must be disclaimed when copyrighting the work. The work should be federally copyrighted before you make it available for download. With regards to the the graphic designer, that person should be under a contract with you that requires acceptance of full responsibilty for the designs, including but not limited to liability for any future infringement claims that might arise related to the same. Such a contract should be prepared for you by an IP attorney. Otherwise you have no way of knowing where the designs came from. Under any circumstances you are potentially liable for any allegedly infringing work that you publish, but a contract between yourself and any third party provider is a necessity to provide you with a basis for naming another party in a cross-claim should such a claim arise in a copyright infringement lawsuit.

You should obtain legal counsel to run through these issues with you, make sure that you file any copyrights that you need prior to publication, and draft any contracts that you need to ensure that you are properly protected moving forward.

Best of luck.

The information that is placed in this response is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship with Thomas P. Howard, Esq., nor is it intended to be relied upon as a replacement for legal advice from an attorney.



Let me clarify. I would be paying a freelancer writer to create the words for the eBook. The author would be the freelance writer but my company owns the content. I am confused what you mean by photos need to be disclaimed? So what happens if I have this graphic designer agrees that they will be held liable and then they are no longer in business or cannot be found?

Thomas Porter Howard

Thomas Porter Howard


At the time the copyright is filed, the Copyright Office should be advised that the photos are not part of the work being claimed for copyright. Regardless of what the designer does, you still may be placed on notice of infringement or sued for infringement. If a contract with a designer exits, you will have a defense against wilfull infringement. Again, you need to obtain legal counsel so that your specific factual situation can be examined and the ways that you can best protect yourself deternined as you move forward torwards publication.


As the others have stated, you want to purchase from sources who warrant their work and indemnify you against copyright infringement claims. Never be the deepest pocket to go after. Or better yet, get your own photos, if possible. (It's unlikely they could ask for the amount you've stated as damages. It doesn't work that way, though plaintiffs often ask for it.)

But you do want to see an attorney to bless these things, it protects against willful infringement claims, and helps you in front of a jury that you asked and paid for advice on the matter.

I'm not your attorney; my answer to your question includes assumptions. If you want me to be your attorney, I'm easy to find.



using stock photos in your eBook is perfectly fine so long as your paid the stock photo company for that specific license. They have different pricing for books, websites, ads, etc. You also buy these for a specific duration.

You cannot know for sure if your provider infringed on some third party's copyright. The way you handle this is to get an indemnification from them in your written agreement. This means that if you were sued you can go after them to be made whole for any loss deriving from that suit. Of course, this does you no good if they are judgment proof or out of the coutry for example. Another options, as suggested below, if business insurance.

There are software solutions as well out there that professionals use to find infringement. You can look into that as well.

We work in this area so feel free contact me if you need further clarification.

Best regards,

The law firm of Natoli-Lapin, LLC (Home of Lantern Legal Services) offers our flat-rate legal services in the areas of business law and intellectual property to entrepreneurs, small-to-medium size businesses, independent inventors and artists across the nation and abroad. CONTACT: 866-871-8655 DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis of this posting.

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