Important: Follow Up on Content Policy Deadline

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This post hasn't been updated in over 2 years.

In February, we updated our content policy here on the Envato Marketplaces with more detail, particularly around using external assets, like photos and music, in item previews. We’ve also had quite a few posts appearing here on Notes about surrounding issues. In our content policy post we asked all authors to review their portfolios by March 12th – today! So what happens next?

Penalties

As you will know from reading the content policy, as well as having items disabled or rejected, there are scenarios where an author’s entire account could be disabled and the author banned from the marketplaces. Nobody wants that sort of outcome, so I urge all authors to take this stuff very seriously.

The first scenario that could lead to disablement is where an author is the subject of repeated DMCA notices from rights holders. If there are a number of DMCAs, and they are all in valid form, and no counter-notices are filed by the author, then we are required by DMCA legislation to ban authors, and we will do so.

A second scenario is where we are notified or become aware of what we consider to be violations of our content policy, in some other way besides a DMCA notice. We have an option to ban authors in this situation. It’s important to understand that we will work to educate authors who have genuine questions or are genuinely unsure about how to source or use assets within their items, but will not tolerate repeated or blatant disregard the intellectual property of others.

Reviewing Portfolios and Categories

If a DMCA notice is received, in addition to the steps required by the DMCA we may ask the author to review their entire portfolio, and then review that portfolio ourselves. In the process of dealing with a DMCA notice, we may notice other items in an author’s portfolio and again may exercise our discretion to disable items where there might be IP issues.

The authors retain overall responsibility for their content however, as we are not copyright detectives. For the same reason, copyright owners have the responsibility to police infringements of their works (and use the DMCA process), and we cannot be expected to do this for them. As you can imagine, it would be impossible to identify, track down and verify licensing for anything in a marketplace item that might come from someone apart from the author.

Over time we are going to do a high level (not full IP) review of key categories and marketplaces. Again we won’t be acting as copyright investigators, but will in our discretion be contacting authors about obvious potential IP problems, such as the use of copyrighted characters and celebrity photos.

The first review will cover some of the print templates categories in GraphicRiver, particularly flyers, brochures, magazine and CD cover templates. This review will begin on March 26th.

Out of this review, we will be exercising our discretion regarding banning authors (as explained above). I’m confident that the vast majority of authors want to do the right thing when it comes to using others’ assets correctly, and hopeful that there will be few, if any, situations requiring this action.

As a reminder, our content policy applies to ‘live previews’ (demo or externally hosted previews). Although they may be hosted elsewhere, they are nonetheless associated with items sold here on the Envato Marketplaces, and we are committed to ensuring that items associated with our marketplaces respect others’ intellectual property.

Review Your Portfolios

I’d ask all authors to take the opportunity to review your existing previews and ensure you have appropriately sourced assets, including properly licensed assets such as stock photos.

It has always been our policy that authors must respect the intellectual property rights of others, and on the whole they have. Since we have now further clarified the policy and asked authors to review their portfolios, we will be taking an increasingly dim view of authors whose existing and new items and previews fail to comply with our content policy.


I’ve also got more posts I’m preparing to publish here on Notes to talk about more related copyright and IP issues. It’s really important stuff for our marketplaces given that what we trade in here is intellectual property. So stay tuned for more posts. And if you have any questions about this one, or anything related, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

  • http://butlerm.com Matthew Butler

    Thanks for the update!

  • Dany Duchaine

    I’m curious to know if Envato have the rights to use movie image in their tutorials, like here : http://webdesign.tutsplus.com/tutorials/site-elements/skin-orman-clarks-video-interface-using-jplayer-and-css/

    Just wondering.

    • http://iamcollis.tumblr.com Collis Ta’eed

      Hey DD, Good question! I’ll take a look and find out.

  • http://themeforest.net/user/nimbleo nimbleo

    Thanks for that Collis.

    My question is as follows:

    If I’ve credited all sources, libraries, assets, etc – that I’m using in my preview within the documentation template (which is available upon download), do I also need to credit these on my item description landing page?

    • http://themeforest.net/user/Smartik Smartik

      I think the best is to add “sources and credits” in your item description and in documentation. So, if an author of an asset will check your item, you can be sure that it will see the backlink from you.

    • http://iamcollis.tumblr.com Collis Ta’eed

      Hey Nimbleo, as Smartik says it’s good to list credits for things in your item description where relevant. For example if you have used a Creative Commons licensed image that is OK for commercial use but requires attribution, then you should put the link in both your item description and in the documentation (if the image is in the download as well).

      We don’t require you to credit any sources which themselves don’t require it. So Flickr Creative Commons usually requires attribution as far as I know, but if you *purchased* a stock photo from PhotoDune, then you would not need to credit it.

    • http://themeforest.net/user/nimbleo nimbleo

      Thanks for clearing that up guys.

  • Foos

    Hey,

    I don´t know if I understood everything the right way.

    So is it right that I am not allowed to use stock images in my preview?

    • http://iamcollis.tumblr.com Collis Ta’eed

      Hey Foos, you CAN use stock images in your preview as long as they are properly licensed. Usually this means purchasing a standard license if it’s just in the preview and often an extended license if you are including the image in your downloadable file. You should check the license terms from whatever site you buy stock photos from.

      If you are licensing free stock photos, then again you should check the license terms to make sure it’s allowed.

      Finally remmeber that you are allowed to use a *watermarked* PhotoDune image in your item preview (only) without purchasing the license, so long as you place a linkback credit to the image in your item description.

  • Mickey

    Thank you for the update Collis. I have a few question which hopefully you or anyone from the staff could answer. There are a number of sites on internet which provide free for commercial use images.

    If I have used an image which might somehow be violating the policy, but yet it has a license of free for commercial use then

    1) How do I know it? Because obviously I cannot know every celebrities of the world except knowing about those who are very very famous everywhere.

    2) What will be the Envato’s take on it if I show you the license?

    These might be dumb questions but I really won’t like to infringe on someone’s rights. Thank you.

    • http://iamcollis.tumblr.com Collis Ta’eed

      Good question! It’s a bit of a tradeoff when using free stock image sites that it typically exposes you to more risk than a paid stock library might.

      As you say you cannot know, and in such a case would claim to have been misrepresented to. So the rights holder would contact Envato who takedown the item and they might then get in touch with the author, who would then show the license/source, and the rights holder would then take action against the site distributing the image. At least that is my understanding!

    • Mickey

      Thank you very much for your reply Collis. This exactly takes away my worries. As we are designer, we understand and respect IP policy. Everything that we use is properly licensed and we take it very seriously. So if there’s something in our items that violates the policy, we’ll definitely modify the item as soon as we come to know of it and will do it as soon as possible.

  • m-maxmax

    Thanks for the update very good

  • Alex

    Thanks for the update!

    What about images that are free downloads like from wallpaper sites?

    Anway, if there still would be something wrong, you get a message from envato first right?

    Thx

    • http://iamcollis.tumblr.com Collis Ta’eed

      Images that don’t come with a license to use the image in a commercial context (e.g. a wallpaper site is likely to be licesning images for personal use only) should not be used. The person who created the image likely did not intend for that usage and may take issue with it. Check whether the site’s terms allow use in a commercial context.

      If a rights holder issues a valid DMCA notice then we will remove the item and let the author know. The rights holder may choose to then take action against the author.

      I strongly urge you to be careful in the selection and usage of images and other assets. There are plenty of good sources of both paid and free content. I am planning more Notes posts to cover some of them.

  • John

    I just want to say that many people are still not up to current rules and they for instance use Vimeo videos in live previews.

    This didn’t cause big problems so far so when you do that global, general review I’d suggest to just inform people breaking rules to fix potential problems ASAP and not ban them altogether or disable items (even if entire portfolio of 50 or 100 items breaks rules slightly).

    Give them a second chance to fix item’s live preview within a few days from noticing problematic content.

    They put a lot of work into creating that and I’m sure they still want to work for Envato. If you kindly inform them about possible problems instead of adding “warning badge” or banning them straight away it would be a good move of you :)

    My item is still using “illegal” Vimeo clip even if it’s 14 March but I’m going to replace it with YouTube one today or tomorrow. I’d be disappointed if you disabled it all of a sudden. It was using Vimeo clip for over 1 year.

    That’s just my suggestion :) Thanks if you consider that.

    • http://iamcollis.tumblr.com Collis Ta’eed

      Hi John, our intention is not to take action against authors who are genuinely trying to do the right thing. We are working hard to make sure our content policy and guidelines are very clear, and it’s great that authors like yourself are making changes as appropriate!

  • http://www.eutopica.com Theo

    That`s why I always use my photos, my music and my footage :>>>

  • http://www.arseli.com Ayhan Bulut

    Thanks for the all update.. all of them very good..

  • Paul

    I’ve got rather important questions that may be a whole separate article (and useful one).

    1) http://mainhg.demotywatory.pl/uploads/201202/1329862537_by_markens_500.jpg

    2) I’ve just seen on your forum that someone claimed that theme A is copy of website B because layout and usage of stripes in background is similar but is this really copyright infringement? Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy are also alike, they both share the same layout and look of desktop, they have the same functionality, the idea is the same but it’s not copyright infringement.

    A) http://www.freepremiumwordpressthemes.info/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/WP-Avatar.jpg
    B) http://www.cofamedia.com/

    3) What do you think about creating some copyright department inside Envato that will accurately determine what is ok and what is not whether it comes to copyright disputes? I know you’re not responsible for that but I think there are many false claims that damage authors and marketplaces.

    I’m really serious and I want to help. I hope you won’t ignore my request for separate article or copyright department. You can even hire some expert who is familiar with copyright and let them explain what is yet not explained in your recent articles :)

    PS
    Some brief overview about substantial similarity tests that may be a good start for article: http://www.pli.edu/product_files/booksamples/631_sample3.pdf

    • http://iamcollis.tumblr.com Collis Ta’eed

      Great image, and it just illustrates how difficult it would be for us to undertake a copyright review. This is why our reviewers are only reviewing for technical and aesthetic quality. It is up to the authors to judge whether or not they have the rights to an image. If there is any doubt, it is better to find another image.

      Ultimately only a court can determine if and when the law was broken. However that’s not a situation any of us want to be in!

      Regarding when an item is a copy of another, sometimes a copy is blatant and our review and support staff can remove the offending item. When the alleged copy is less clear, then the original rights holder must file a valid DMCA which is done under penalty of perjury against the offending item. The other author has an opportunity to issue a counter notice. And ultimately if the matter is not resolved between the two authors, then it goes to the courts to decide (assuming one party pursues it that far).

      Regarding a copyright department, as I mentioned above it would be unfeasible to create such a department. Ultimately we rely on the authors to be responsible for the work they upload.

  • Paul

    Ah, and often complaints are baseless in my opinion. In my above example (point 2) their theme seems to allow any customization but only one configuration looks like some other site.

  • Shahid

    nice to warn peoples :), just have one question if you can please explain, that if i used photos from wallpapers such like http://www.smashingmagazine.com/tag/wallpapers/ would it will be ok or not ?

    • http://iamcollis.tumblr.com Collis Ta’eed

      Hey Shahid,

      Unless the wallpaper specifically says that it can be used in a commercial context like an item preview, you shouldn’t use them. The designers of the wallpapers need to actually state that it’s OK to use their work in this way, otherwise it’s best not to do so.

  • fabio

    are there PDFs of these policies we can download? i tend to read such things on my commute to and from work ;)

  • http://Review Sherman

    Hello Collis!

    Is it ok if I update my images having given all the links which point to the original file and stock rules where the author allows his/her photo to be used commercially?

    The reason I ask is because I have some images which are on an image cd I purchased from music world. There is no link to the author nothing.

    Envato is my bread and butter. (only tastier)

  • Devilcantburn

    Hello,

    Just a word about this posts and those related with the Content Policy.
    I think it could be very nice to translate those posts in other languages than just in English, because many authors do not have english in native language so that can be a good way to understand ALL and in the good way about… all of that.

    and maybe also… simplify or… brevity the text !
    like:
    You can do : That, that, that.
    You can not do : That, That, That.

    Thanks ;)

  • http://www.sunrgb.com osunoo

    Thanks for warning,we’ll be careful!

  • Haikbvn

    Thanks for the update!

    My question is as follows:

    I can use the images here?
    http://wiki.envato.com/community/wallpapers-community/envato-marketplace-wallpapers/

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  • http://ironbayou.com IronBayou

    If you use tools (with Tool License) from the marketplace (text styles for example) in a print template you are selling in the marketplace, are you required to credit the tools author?

  • http://ironbayou.com IronBayou

    I hate to ask this. I promise I’m not trying to cause trouble, but I’m trying to understand.

    How can your review staff afford the time to approve previously approved work when current product reviews are so far behind?