I am confused by the legalities. It is a free stock photo site with these requirements:
You may use the Image
In digital format on websites, multimedia presentations, broadcast film and video, cell phones.
In printed promotional materials, magazines, newspapers, books, brochures, flyers, CD/DVD covers, etc.
Along with your corporate identity on business cards, letterhead, etc.
To decorate your home, your office or any public place.
You may not use the Image
For pornographic, unlawful or other immoral purposes, for spreading hate or discrimination, or to defame or victimise other people, sociteties, cultures.
To endorse products and services if it depicts a person.
In a way that can give a bad name to SXC or the person(s) depicted on the Image.
SELLING AND REDISTRIBUTION OF THE IMAGE (INDIVIDUALLY OR ALONG WITH OTHER IMAGES) IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN! DO NOT SHARE THE IMAGE WITH OTHERS!
Always ask permission from the photographer if you want to use the Image
For creating printed reproductions that You intend to sell.
On "print on demand" items such as t-shirts, postcards, mouse pads, mugs (e.g. on sites like Cafepress), or on any similar mass produced item that would contain the Image in a dominant way.
It says: "For pornographic, or other immoral purposes"
Well, immoral to who? Pornographic in what way? Amazon defines pornographic if it's images, not writing.
It says: "In a way that can give a bad name to SXC or the person(s) depicted on the Image."
That is subjective too.
It is so frustrating. Can anyone decipher some of this legal talk?
The "selling and redistribution" statement is referring to selling the image itself or distributing it as if you have some sort of rights. So ignore that part.
I suggest that you purchase images from istockphoto.com. It's not at all expensive and they can be used on book covers. Just include the photographer copyright info on your copyright page. Here is the cost and info:
I like iStockphoto generally. But the standard license agreement for books doesn't specify ebook uses (unless I missed it in the legalese). I'm sure they don't mean to exclude them, but I'd be more comfortable if their license agreement specifically listed ebook covers, as well as print book covers.
Also, if you need the extended license (who does?) it can get pricey.
If you only want to use part of the image, then you may need to get a large file, to preserve clarity, and it can get even pricier.
"Always ask permission from the photographer if you want to use the Image for creating printed reproductions that you intend to sell. On "print on demand" items such as t-shirts, postcards, mouse pads, mugs (e.g. on sites like Cafepress), or "[b]on any similar mass produced item that would contain the Image in a dominant way[/b]".
Which brings you back to asking the photographer. Of course, that opens a wide range of other options, too. You could just as easily search of Creative Commons licensed content on Google Images and Flickr and contact the image owner for permission, also. You will find far more photos to consider going that route.
I don't think a book cover is a case of containing the image "in a dominant way." That is, the main creative act here is the writing. The cover image is only a secondary element in the book as a whole considered as an artistic production.
Creative Commons is a good alternative way to go. It suits the "one off" relationship authors are really looking for. Many of the Stock Photo sites really cater to businesses that use images on a larger scale than a single author looking for a cover image for a single book. Their services are aimed at the art director of some going concern.
"I don't think a book cover is a case of containing the image "in a dominant way."
That is the equivalent of saying it is not a "dominant way" for an image on a T-shirt, Cup, or other item. They are really buying a coffee cup or t-shirt.
The image is the primary and most dominant visual selling element of your book. The words inside may close the sale and give you future sales, but that cover gets the sales process started. That is a pretty dominant portion of your product.
Of course...now we are just getting into semantics and opinions, and we both know to be safe he should be asking for permission to use it on the cover.
A book is not the same as a printed t-shirt or a cup. The t-shirt is virtually a commodity. It's the image printed on it that mainly makes it valuable. If you price them, you'll see that Hanes Beefy-t's cost about a buck (purchased in bulk), while the printed t can sell for $15 or $20. In this case, it's pretty clearly the artwork that is the primary value here. The arithmetic is similar for the coffee mug.
But for a book, the value comes primarily from the writing, not the cover. In cases where this might be arguable, we'd be talking about a pretty lousy book.
Well no, but a book is a book. There are different formats and ebook is one.
I use iStockphoto covers for numerous books - the paperback version and the ebook version because they're the same book. I have done this since May of 2010, so clearly it is not an issue. I also credit the photographer and iStockphoto on my copyright/publisher page in the front of each book; each with their respective year of copyright. I have since read on these forums that you have no need to credit iStockphoto, but back when I started using their images, I was told that both were required.