One of the biggest selling points of Adobe’s new stock photography service, Adobe Stock, is the total app integration between the tech giant’s stock photography library and their creative design programs, like Photoshop and Indesign. But as more users experiment with Adobe Stock images and test the limits of app integration’s power, one question is on the mind of many creative professionals. Can you edit Adobe Stock Images?
Many stock photography users turn to vendors like Adobe looking for one thing: legal imagery, that has been correctly licensed for commercial use. But how does the act of editing Adobe’s stock images affect that legality? And is it acceptable under copyright law to transform the imagery you download from a vendor like Adobe Stock? As it turns out, Adobe’s licensing terms answer all of these questions and more, and make it clear where and when it is legally ok to edit Adobe stock imagery. Here’s a breakdown of the most important information you can find in their licensing agreement, as far as image editing is concerned, and an explanation of how Adobe’s image licensing impacts users hoping to edit stock photography legally.
You CAN Edit Adobe Stock Images
In most cases, editing stock imagery you have bought the commercial rights to from an agency like Adobe isn’t a major issue and won’t cause you any legal headaches. Of course, there are some factors that complicate this answer, and you shouldn’t be under the impression that you can edit imagery however you like. That being said, there is a somewhat clear answer to this question, at least on the surface. Yes, you CAN edit Adobe Stock images,
In fact, the tech giant is actively encouraging users to do so through their full integration with photo editing software like Photoshop. The beauty of Adobe’s image integration is that it makes it simple and straightforward to take a commercially licensed photograph and mold it to your own needs, through the creative design power of Adobe’s flagship programming. In general, most images licensed under royalty free licensing terms can be edited to suit your commercial needs, and need not be left in their original form. Of course, there are some strict limitations on this kind of editing. And a look at Adobe stock photos’ licensing agreement answers the editing question more definitively.
The first major stipulation that Adobe makes about editing their imagery, which you can read more about in their Terms of Service under section 1.5, has to do with intellectual property rights. Adobe states clearly that “your modifications must not violate or infringe on the intellectual property or other rights of any person or entity.” For Adobe stock image users hoping to edit their photos, that’s a pretty unavoidable mandate. But what does it really mean for users?
From Adobe’s perspective, all of the imagery sold in their library has been carefully screened to make sure that no intellectual property rights have been violated. When a stock photo vendor like Adobe licenses imagery to users for commercial purposes, they have to be sure that there aren’t logos of other companies, trademarks that have active copyrights, or any other forms of intellectual property represented in their imagery. And by putting in a stipulation that forbids intellectual property infringement in their licensing terms, Adobe hopes to pass on that level of rigor to their customers. Just be sure that you aren’t breaking any copyright law by infringing on the trademarks or intellectual property of other brands, and this term shouldn’t get in the way of your editing.
Editing Images and Negative Depictions
The one other area where Adobe expressly forbids image editing is where it would slander the models in their stock photos, or otherwise make models or photographers look bad. Adobe forbids image editing that might “place the author or the model in a bad light or depict them in any way that might be deemed offensive.” From a stock photographer or model perspective this is good news, but what does it look like for stock photo users hoping to edit their downloads?
All image editing must be in good taste, or at least not in bad taste towards the models and stock photographers associated with any particular image. When models sign away the rights to their likeness, giving a vendor like Adobe permission to sell their image for commercial purposes, there is often a stipulation in their contract that forbids their defamation. And as a stock photo user, when you edit imagery you can not infringe on that contract by making models or photographers look bad.
As long as you follow these guidelines, you are more than welcome to edit Adobe stock images. Just be sure that your editing doesn’t violate intellectual property laws, or make models or photographers look bad, and you should be legally in the clear to edit images to your heart’s content.