Interview with Canva and Pexels: How can creators use free gallery legally and compliantly?

Interview with Canva and Pexels: How can creators use free gallery legally and compliantly?

#Interview #Canva #Pexels #creators #free #gallery #legally #compliantly

Many individual creators and studios will go to CC0 (Creative Commons Zero) authorized websites to find materials, including pictures, designs, text, music, sound effects, etc., when funds are tight and they need content without copyright issues. However, many people have not figured out the copyright issues, leading to infringement issues and damage to the brand image.

On January 31 this year, Wang Feng released the new song “Nobody Cares”. The cover of the single was exploded. It was almost identical to the cover of the song “Call Call” released by another band in 2019. It was a side shot of a shouting character wearing a plastic bag. In this case, neither party seems to have infringed, but happened to use the work of the same photographer, Cristian Newman. This photographer is from Mexico and once uploaded his photography to a free work sharing platform.

This incident once again triggered everyone’s doubts and discussions on copyright issues. In response to this, Hu Yan, legal counsel at Canva, a well-known online design platform, and Laura Stanley, head of business development and cooperation at Pexels, put forward feasibility suggestions for using public materials in a recent interview. At present, Canva and its acquired Pexels and Pixabay image libraries can provide users with a large amount of free content. The following is the content of the interview:

Source: Network

Question: Attorney Hu Yan, please help us sort out the copyright relationship involved in the above-mentioned case disputes. Why does it cause this situation?

Hu Yan:The Sanren Band downloaded this picture from the free gallery (presumably Unsplash) to make its own album cover. Later, Wang Feng Studio also took a fancy to this picture, and specifically found the photographer himself and asked for written authorization.

Analyze the problems of all parties:

1) The casual band is basically correct, but the understanding of the free gallery is not clear enough, ignoring the risk of directly using the free gallery picture as the album cover.

Free images are generally directly applicable to the CC0 license, or may use their own license terms, but they are very similar to CC0, allowing users to download images for free and use them for commercial and non-commercial purposes.

For example, Unsplash mentions in the license terms: any image can be downloaded for free for commercial and non-commercial use without additional consent of the author, but it is encouraged to sign the author’s name when using it. Images are not allowed to be sold or used in galleries that compete with Unsplash without major changes.

Source: Canva drawable

On the surface, all pictures are free for commercial use. It is estimated that Sanren bands and many picture users see this and think that commercial use is completely fine. But they overlooked two issues:

First, there are some restrictions on the commercial use of free images. For example, Unsplash stated in the full version of the Terms & Conditions (online terms of use): Unsplash grants the image license does not include portraits, third-party trademarks or works of art involved in the free image (such as the image contains a painting ) Authorization. If you want to use such images, you need to obtain separate authorization from the owner of the portrait right, the owner of the trademark, and the owner of the work.

In addition, Unsplash’s terms of use also have a disclaimer (exemption clause), the clause states: Since the website cannot monitor the pictures uploaded by each photographer, it cannot ensure that the pictures are 100% okay. This means that the pictures may have hidden dangers of infringement or may contain content that violates public order and good customs. The users of the pictures should judge the risk of using free pictures and bear these risks.

Second, the free gallery does not rule out the situation that some photographers use other people’s pictures as their own work to upload to the free gallery, because the free gallery does not have the human and material resources to review. If the image user uses such a picture, the risk of infringement will be relatively Big.

In this incident, the free pictures used by the casual band were indeed shared by the author on Unsplash, and the author agreed to the license terms of Unsplash and agreed to give his work to the public for free for commercial purposes. Therefore, the use of the image by the casual band did not infringe anyone’s rights. However, directly using the pictures in the free gallery as album art is not a very prudent way to use it.

2) Wang Feng’s studio has done nothing wrong, but it should be realized that it cannot obtain actual exclusive rights.

A picture should be used for commercial purposes, especially for commercial purposes that are widely exposed and recurring, such as the cover of a book or audio-visual product, product packaging, advertising, etc. It is definitely correct to ask the author for authorization directly. Some authors will authorize the copyright of the pictures or sell them one-off to paid libraries, such as Getty and Visual China. It is also possible for image users to directly buy such paid libraries. Paid photo galleries have strict review of copyright and portrait rights, which can basically eliminate the worries of commercial image infringement.

The pictures used by Wang Feng’s studio this time are from a free gallery. In order to avoid copyright issues, they directly find the photographer to obtain a commercial authorization, which is also a very safe way. However, according to the author’s authorization letter issued by Wang Feng’s studio on Weibo, the author’s rights are “exclusive”, that is, exclusive authorization, and it also mentions that the author promises that the picture will never “disclose to any media”. It should also be inconsistent with the facts, because the picture should have been shared with the public in the free gallery, otherwise the casual band would not see it. Since many people have already downloaded this picture on the free gallery before authorization and used it for various commercial purposes legally under the license of the free gallery, it is difficult for Wang Feng Studio to guarantee the real exclusive commercial rights to this picture.

3) The pictures that the photographer has voluntarily shared on the free gallery are not suitable for granting exclusive commercial rights.

I think that if the photographer has uploaded the voluntary pictures to the free gallery, it means that he agrees to be bound by the terms of the free gallery and agrees that the public can download the pictures for free for commercial and non-commercial use. If one day you don’t want to use it for the public, it’s okay. You can remove your own picture from the free gallery, but the user who has downloaded the picture from the free gallery site before it is removed still has the right to use this picture for the free gallery Licensed use. At this time, it is almost impossible for the photographer to grant exclusive authorization to any third party alone. In this incident, if the photographer ever shared this picture on a free library such as Unsplash, and then granted Wang Feng’s studio the exclusive commercial rights, it would obviously be inappropriate. The authorization can be, but it should not be exclusive, and the fact that the public has been allowed to use it in the free gallery should also be disclosed in the authorization letter.

Question: Is the work marked with the CC0 agreement available for free use worldwide? Is there any risk?

Hu Yan:CC0 stands for Creative Commons Zero license. The copyright owner who agrees to apply the CC0 method to allow others to use his own work agrees to give up all economic interests in the work worldwide, and allow others to copy, use, and edit his own work for commercial and non-commercial purposes without obtaining the copyright owner There is no need to pay any license fees if you agree.

Many of the pictures in the world-renowned free stocks Pexels and Pixabay are subject to the CC0 license. Later, they also introduced their own license agreement, but the overall content is very similar to CC0.

The free gallery is an open public platform. Photographers and image users who upload pictures are required to abide by the license agreement of the free gallery. Photographers need to ensure that the works are created by themselves, do not infringe the rights of third parties, and agree that their works can be downloaded by the public for commercial and non-commercial use free of charge. Image users can download all images for free, and use the images for commercial and non-commercial purposes without the author’s additional consent, but they need to comply with the authorization scope and usage methods stipulated in the license agreement, and they must bear the possible copyright risks of the free images themselves. .

Because copyright review is very difficult, it takes a lot of manpower and money, and forcing photographers to upload portrait rights will undoubtedly greatly reduce the photographer’s willingness to share and reduce the amount of pictures. Therefore, free stocks cannot strictly control pictures like paid stocks. Issues such as copyright are also understandable.

The free gallery is to build a virtual sharing market for photographers and picture users, so that photographers who are willing to share their works for free have a platform to display their own, and users with picture needs can find high-quality free pictures. Copyright and portrait rights are all based on self-consciousness. If the image user mainly uses the image for non-commercial use, the general problem is not big, but if it is to be used for commercial purposes, especially for extensive and repeated exposure purposes (such as product packaging, advertising, etc.), directly use the free image The risk is high. It is recommended to contact the author of the work through the free gallery to obtain explicit authorization or simply use the pictures in the paid gallery.

Although free stock images have certain risks for commercial use, it does greatly enrich the choices of ordinary people, especially for non-commercial use.

Question: Laura Stanley, can you talk about the benefits of free sharing from the perspective of creators and free gallery sites? How can we make everyone in the industry happy and maintain sustainable development? Ecology?

Laura Stanley, Head of Business Development and Cooperation, Pexels: My first profession was a photographer, but I quickly realized that in a highly competitive industry, it is difficult to make money. Later I decided to enter the magazine industry and worked as a photo editor for several magazines in New York and Toronto, including “National Geographic Adventure”, “Hello, Canada” and “Canadian Geography”. My job is to authorize images and Entrust a photographer to shoot for the magazine.

When the publishing industry began to transform to digital, I joined 500px, an online community for photographers, to build an authorization platform for photographers, to help photographers commercialize their works, and to bring the online community of photographers to the market. After 500px was acquired by Visual China, I got a new position in Pexels. Pexels mainly provides users with free pictures.

The rise of social media and the development of mobile phone technology have made it very easy to obtain and share content. Correspondingly, the freshness and shelf life of the content are getting shorter and shorter. The content needs to be constantly changing, and brands and companies need to update the images regularly to maintain the audience’s interest.

Compared with the past, today’s photographers and creators face more comprehensive competition because there are so many people who can create good content relatively easily. So photographers and creators need to advertise and be seen by others. Photographers around the world will regard Pexels as an eye-catching place, sharing some selected pictures on our website, which may not even be their best works, but as millions of people visit Pexels, everyone will often learn from I found photographers they like on Pexels and commissioned them to work for them.

Free photography will never replace inviting photographers to shoot something unique to a certain brand. Brands always need specific content. People will invite professional photographers to shoot for events, weddings, babies, and personal brands, but what Pexels can really do is bridge the gap between small businesses, students, teachers and even non-profit organizations and huge brand budgets. These people are often grateful. One of the biggest reasons we see photographers and creators like giving away pictures for free is that they are very happy that someone uses their work.

An easy way for users of free images to give back to the photographer is to thank the photographer. If possible, follow the photographers on social media, share their work through social media, indicate the source of the picture, sign the author, and even provide them with some donations. This kind of interaction means more opportunities for photographers, allowing them to get royalties on some paid photo gallery sites.

Question: Can you give Chinese creators and studios some suggestions on how to use global public design assets and build brands?

Laura Stanley: I am very happy to see more and more Chinese users come to Pexels to find content and ideas. If you have a WeChat official account, I strongly recommend that you use our free image library when creating the content of the WeChat official account. We have just completed the product integration with the WeChat official account. All brands that use the WeChat official account can seamlessly insert Pexels images in articles and posts to facilitate the rapid creation and sharing of marketing content with beautiful visual effects.

Pexels is a great library of free photos and videos that can help people build their own brands. At Pexels, we do our best to review photos provided by hand-curated photographers so that fresh, relevant and high-quality content is presented to users. We carefully review content that may not be allowed or have permission, and carefully check what may be obtained from other websites. Pexels is always looking for the best content. When users come to Pexels, we hope that they can find exactly what they want and find some needs they haven’t found.

As long as you don’t abuse the free license or draw anyone’s photos in a negative way, the images and videos on the Pexels website can be chosen by everyone and are everyone’s resources, and we are willing to empower everyone.

Question: In China, what are the free public design assets of Canva Paint that can be used by Chinese users?

Hu Yan:Canva draws a free online design platform for users. Our fees mainly come from third-party copyrighted content. Even so, we also provide our users with more than 200,000 free photos, more than 100,000 free illustrations, There are also about 3000 free Chinese and English fonts. We currently do not charge design fees for Canva’s drawable templates. 40% of the templates include the materials that are completely free. The other 60% of the templates contain paid genuine materials. If necessary, users only need to pay for the genuine paid materials, or You can continue to use it by replacing it with free material.

Canva has also acquired free libraries such as Pexels and Pixabay worldwide, providing free content and creative resources for creators, studios, and non-profit organizations.

We also open our products to non-profit organizations for free. All non-profit organizations registered in China can apply to become members of, use our commercial products for free, and help them promote their charity deeds through Canva.

(Canva can draw Ma Liping also contributed to this article)


I’m Wang Yijin, the author of 36kr. For business communication, please email, and please note the company + name + position + intention of coming.


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