I have started an open source project and would very much like to have a cute and catchy icon to label the project with. My dilemma is that I have little to no experience designing vector graphics for use in such a project. To compensate I thought I might purchase a graphic from one of the stock photo service (shutterstock, etc.).

My project produces HTML documentation from Gherkin language files and my intention was to use this icon on the footer of each page for an "output produced by ..." kinda thing.

My question is what implications would it have on my licensed software if I were to use this graphic in it. I am releasing the software under the Apache v2 license.

  • Interesting. Isn't the question rather what implications the licensed software (Apache v2) will have on the graphic? Are they 'compatible'? Commented Oct 30, 2011 at 14:37
  • You might want to throw a hundred bucks or so at 99designs.com and get your icons custom designed and licensed how you want them. You might also want to refrain from asking programmers legal questions, because the intersection set between programmers who know the answers and programmmers who think they know the answers isn't as big as you'd hope. Commented Oct 30, 2011 at 15:25
  • That is an interesting suggestion, I'll take a look at the website. Can you suggest a better forum to ask the licensing related question? Commented Oct 30, 2011 at 15:28
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    @JeffreyCameron Licensing questions like this are fine here. I'm not entirely sure what you're asking, but I'm also not very familiar with the Apache license off hand.
    – Adam Lear
    Commented Oct 30, 2011 at 15:50
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    Nullifying is the one thing that won't happen. Conflicting, yes, but not nullifying. I agree with @Paul Tomblin that programmers are notoriously bad at predicting what will happen in a legal situation. Your best bet is to tell the graphics supplier specifically what you intend to do and then get a written OK from them. No ambiguity, no conflict. Commented Oct 30, 2011 at 16:14

1 Answer 1


If you take a look at Shutterstock's licence comparison table you notice that they pose some limitations on incorporating images into software in their Standard licence:

Incorporated into software as a background image or splash screen:

Standard -- Image may not be reproduced more than 250,000 times

Enhanced -- no limitation on reproductions

But they deny any use of their images as a trademark, service mark, logo, or other indication of origin (look for the Uses Prohibited by Both Licenses table). It seems that although if you purchase the Enhanced licence there is no limitation on using the image in your software, you can't actually use it in your "output produced by ..." kinda thing, as this probably falls into the service mark or indication of origin category.

So before you look for any incompatibility with the Apache licence, you should probably make sure that your use of the image is valid. Every stock photos service have their own licences or licence schemes, so your best bet is to contact them directly. My best guess is that if your use of the image is 100% valid, there is no incompatibility with most open source licences.

If not, you can always release your software under the Apache Licence and its copyrighted assets that are not part of the software under different licences.

  • Thank you Yannis! Very informative. I had seen something about the license and shutterstock appears to have a contact me page for more information. I'll check those out. Commented Oct 30, 2011 at 19:39
  • OP will surely come back and let us know how it went.... not :P. Commented Jul 27, 2015 at 9:34

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