Stock images

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Hang on Studio Wall
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is it permissible to use stock images from the internet as inspiration for a painting? Is the answer dependent on whether the painting is for sale or just for personal pleasure?
In short it's perfectly okay to use them strictly for your own pleasure and development but not futher or otherwise unless the site expressly states that the images are copyright free. Put in simple terms (unless they are expressly stated as being copyright free) never use them for work which is for sale or for display where the public can view them. 
I should have added that even where images are stated as being copyright free I would still never use them for paintings that are to be put on sale or on display. I'm sure there will be a consensus here on POL which advises that you should always seek to work from your own source material. However there is a caveat in all of this - you do ask if it's okay to use internet images for inspiration. Well, yes, maybe if you are purely using them as inspiration to paint in say a certain style or to a particular palette and not copying the image. There are vast areas of grey between copying and simply being inspired which is where the courts come into play. It's areas of grey which keep the lawyers in bread and milk - me included before I retired. 

Edited
by Michael Edwards

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This is not the case in the Uk.  I believe that copyright laws in the US do not cover photographs, but in the Uk, they are covered and therefore should not be used, without written permission or under licence.  There is an exclusion for educational purposes.  If you have any doubts, then read the relevant law, preferably not the summary, as this can cause confusion.  The original artist or photographer does not sacrifice their copyright, by putting it on the internet, but they may do, when putting it on certain sites (this would be in the site’s Terms and Conditions).
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