This is a legal question and I want to know if I can continue the way I work in a commercial environment. This is not about if I can blatantly take images from the web and use them as they are.
What I do is mostly icons and iconographic imagery where in the end no one can tell if I used an image that doesn’t belong to me as a starting point.
Here is an example.
See, technically I stole.
I’d like to know if this is perfectly okay and counts as a new work or if it’s sort-of okay because I might not get into legal trouble. Or maybe I should be really careful.
I actually don’t know.
To put it simple: If you use (part of) an existing image that isn’t royalty-free, then no, you may not use it. Doing so may result in a ‘fine’. It’s not like Johannes says either, it doesn’t matter how close it resembles any other picture of the same object.
However. Although you may officially not use a picture you got from some random site, it doesn’t mean you can’t actually use it. In the sample you provided, there is no way anyone can see which photo was used for it. Especially here, because it’s a standard USB cable of which there are tons of similar photos. As long as no one can evidently see you took a specific picture for use in your icons/mockups/sites/whatever, you can use it without getting in trouble.
One small tip though: some/most stock image sites make their money mostly by sending ‘invoices’ to site owners who use one of their pictures. If you use any non-Royalty Free stock images, make sure you cannot see that that specific image was used for your creation.
Source : Link , Question Author : unR , Answer Author : paddotk