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Suppose I am including a feature in my image-viewing software, which opens an image in Photoshop ('Send to Photoshop'), using Photoshop's OLE automation framework.

Am I allowed to use the icon of Photoshop.exe as the image of this 'Send to' button?

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  • Besides legal issues, that would mean that you have to provide a new version of your software whenever Photoshop icon changes.
    – mouviciel
    May 22, 2012 at 7:43
  • @mouviciel I think the basic design of their logo has been consistent since the beginning of the 'Creative Suite' era.
    – Rotem
    May 22, 2012 at 7:57
  • @Rotem That's not true. The icons for CS and CS2 were very different from CS3, 4, 5 and 6. May 23, 2012 at 11:06
  • @root45 You got me, I forgot about the blue feather phase.
    – Rotem
    May 23, 2012 at 11:08
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is a legal question of pure copyright law and not about software licensing.
    – user40980
    Aug 27, 2015 at 12:57

4 Answers 4

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No, as per Use of Adobe icons and web logos:

You may not use Adobe product icons except under a written license from Adobe.You may qualify for use of an Adobe product icon(s) under a program offered through an Adobe Partner program. If you are not eligible for any of these programs, you may be eligible to use one of Adobe's web logos or a box shot of an Adobe product instead.

You should however contact Adobe directly and ask permission to use Photoshop's icon. It's a long shot, but it's not unthinkable that they'd want their icon to be in an image viewing software since it's one of their core areas of expertise and you'd be advertising them for free. Long shot, but worth a try, all you need to do is send them an email.

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    The fact that they claim something doesn't make it true... May 22, 2012 at 8:29
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    @PeterTaylor - Adobe can impose whatever restrictions they like on their copyrighted material. That is their right in any country which is a signatory to the World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty.
    – Mark Booth
    May 22, 2012 at 12:35
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    @MarkBooth - Your statement is not correct. In countries like the US that recognize fair use there are a number of things you can do with a copyrighted work without saying boo to the author. Not relevant to the present situation, but your blanket statement is incorrect. May 23, 2012 at 13:34
  • @MichaelKohne - If you could cite an example which was relevant to this question then I would be happy to remove my comment. As it is, in the context of this question it is Peter Taylor who has yet to prove his point. See the chat on Ben Burns' answer.
    – Mark Booth
    May 23, 2012 at 16:15
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Icons are protected works under international copyright law. As with all protected works, you need permission in writing before using them. Typically larger companies like Adobe have blanket licenses for this sort of thing.

From their website:

You may not use Adobe product icons except under a written license from Adobe.You may qualify for use of an Adobe product icon(s) under a program offered through an Adobe Partner program. If you are not eligible for any of these programs, you may be eligible to use one of Adobe's web logos or a box shot of an Adobe product instead.

Emphasis mine.

I'd take a look at the site and see where you fit in. If it's really worth it to you, I'd pursue participation in the Adobe Partner program.

Note that some uses of copyright works in some countries may be covered by exclusions allowed under Article 10 of WIPOCT, but what exclusions are available, and whether they apply in your jurisdiction is way beyond the scope of a programmers stack exchange question, you would have to consult a copyright lawyer.

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No. The photoshop icon is artwork that is protected and you must get a written permission from adobe.

That said, I saw lot of applications using protected artworks, especially Excel & Word icons, without problems, but you really don't want to be exposed like this.

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  • Thanks. Is the icon the only thing 'wrong' with what I described? If i just write 'Ps' on the image in a way that does not resemble the icon, would that make it ok?
    – Rotem
    May 22, 2012 at 7:03
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If you use the photoshop icon from the photoshop exe (if installed on the clients computer), wouldn't the client already have a license to view that icon? Explorer shows the icon, as do a lot of other filetools.

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  • No, not really, you can extract any icon from any exe and then use it in your application, without needing the source application to be installed.
    – yannis
    May 22, 2012 at 7:49
  • @Yannis Would it make a difference if the application extracts the ico at runtime and uses that as an image? What if you are developing an explorer-type application? Would you have to get written permission for every possible application in existence?
    – Rotem
    May 22, 2012 at 7:53
  • Viewing the icon like explorer does, technically involves extracting the icon from the exe at runtime. If your application has the same functionality as explorer, basically viewing the icon I would see no problem. Just don't ship the icon as part of your software package.
    – Pieter B
    May 22, 2012 at 7:55
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    @Yannis Also, if the user does not have Photoshop installed, there is no point in showing this button to the user, so it might also be useful in a way to check for Photoshop at startup regardless.
    – Rotem
    May 22, 2012 at 8:13
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    If photoshop is installed: view the icon from photoshops exe. If it isn't installed, the buttons functionality stops, so no need to show that icon.
    – Pieter B
    May 22, 2012 at 8:36

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