Swiss right wing party Schweizerische Volkspartei (SVP) misused images licensed from iStockphoto in their poster.

iStock License Infringement

iStock License Infringement

Microstock models are displayed here as criminals. Here is the original article on a Swiss web site “20 minutes online” (in German)

Here is what Stock licensing agreement says on that:

…For greater certainty, the following are “Prohibited Uses” and you may not:


7. use or display any Content that features a model or person in a manner (a) that would lead a reasonable person to think that such person uses or personally endorses any business, product, service, cause, association or other endeavour; or (b) except where accompanied by a statement that indicates that the Content is being used for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted in the Content is a model, that depicts such person in a potentially sensitive subject matter, including, but not limited to mental and physical health issues, social issues, sexual or implied sexual activity or preferences, substance abuse, crime, physical or mental abuse or ailments, or any other subject matter that would be reasonably likely to be offensive or unflattering to any person reflected in the Content, unless the Content itself clearly and undisputedly reflects the model or person in such potentially sensitive subject matter in which case the Content may be used or displayed in a manner that portrays the model or person in the same context and to the same degree depicted in the Content itself;

Source: iStockphoto

I always thought that only spam Internet robots can write such a long message in one sentence with no periods. Well, may be Tolstoy could too. So the well-paid iStock lawyers are in a good company.

Never mind, here is the relevant part of that:

accompanied by a statement that indicates that the Content is being used for illustrative purposes only

That’s all that the iStock laweyrs found to protect iStockphoto, their artists and models for such an abuse of their work!

With all due respect iStock licensing agreement is mumbling when it goes to deal with such a case.

To compare, look how clearly Fotolia agreement deals with that:



(n) use the Work in a way that places any person in the photo in a bad light or depicts them in a way that they may find offensive – this includes, but is not limited to:

(1) the use of Images in pornography;

(2) tobacco ads;

(3) ads for adult entertainment clubs or similar venues, or for escort, dating or similar services;

(4) political endorsements;

Source: Fotolia

Fotolia says all the right words in the right places and their licensing agreement looks understandable, clear, and protective for the microstock artists and their models.

According to CEPIC, “Sven Ole Schubert, iStock spokesman, announced intentions to approach the organizers after having finished examinations“.

iStockphoto keeps mumbling!

Do they actually have a choice? Can iStock proceed and sue SVP because they did not mention that the microstock models are not related to the SVP’ political campaign?

I wish they could, but iStock Licensing Agreement makes me feel so uncertain on that.

And even if iStock will go to the court this time, still –

When SVP or yet another political movement will do exactly the same next time, now putting a small notice under the abused image, would it be OK for you, iStock?

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