Royalty Free Stock License for Print-On-Demand Questions

I have been researching stock art subscription services like and  They mention that you can't use their artwork for print on demand:

"Print on demand projects such as postcards, mugs, t-shirts, posters, giclee prints, wallpaper, artwork and other items."

I understand that you can't just take any photo on there to slap on a postcard and just resell it, but what if you use multiple photos or just parts of it to make business cards?  I guess I am asking if you actually design items to sell is that different than what they are talking about.
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The answer is that they cannot control PoD work. Bothe for revenue and legal reasons.

If they'd allowed their stock to be used for PoD, it would be very difficult to ensure that they receive the license fees due, and it would open up possibilities to exploit the license agreement.

Assume that you license a picture and it turns out very popular, you could produce 1000s of these and make commercial profits that they would have no way of controlling. As their revenue and copyright grant is linked to the purpose used, largely because they tend to grant copyrighted use on behalf of the copyright owner. It would be very difficult to protect the copyright if they had no way of restricting your use of the material. And restricting the use pretty much defeats the object of PoD.

If you use your own designs then clearly you are the copyright holder of your own work and also the only person with financial title to the artwork so these elements are down to you and nobody else. But you probably would not give these for small money to a third party for them to use these for PoD either....

theideabulbAuthor Commented:
Thanks for your insight, but I am not sure if it helps clear it up.  I do understand what you are saying about not being able to control the counts.

So say i have subscription and want to make a business card for a florist and download 3 flower images from shutterstock and just make them small squares on the right hand side of the card.

The business card is just not the image by itself and trying to resell it, it would have all the information about the company name, employee, address, phone, fax, web address, email, etc.  Would something like that be allowed if it is POD?
Just curious why don't you clarify this issue with iStockPhoto and see what their take on it is.I am sure that they have thought through this when they started selling photo's online
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theideabulbAuthor Commented:
i will ask them when they are open, no one is there over the weekend, was just looking to see if anyone on here had any insight
I would believe that's considered fair use. Otherwise, no designer could use stock. Their prohibition of print-on-demand I believe is geared toward selling an actual product with their image on it. A designer is obviously free to use an image in a stock brochure that's given away to prospective clients. A handling fee is often charged by the designer for obtaining, correcting and cropping the image. However, the designer cannot transfer ownership of the image to anyone because he only has a license to use it. Now, if you design a really great t-shirt that uses a flower image and post it to, which then sells it to another party, you would be violating the print-on-demand clause.
David BruggeCommented:
As I understand your question, you are asking if you can purchase a subscription for an image and use that image to print business cards for a florist.

The answer is yes. You can use that image to print that order for that florist.

What you CAN'T do is put that image on the web, and take orders from florists, printing them each a set of business cards with your original image, without giving the copyright holder some more money.

Rights management does get very complicated very quickly and it is always a good idea to get permission IN WRITING for anything that you want to do that is anyway out of the ordinary. The potential costs are really to great not to.

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