Selling a website that's used some stock images

by nicoli
14 replies
I'm a little perplexed as to how one goes about this, but I'm about to sell one of my sites for a substantial amount of money and face a slight legal hurdle.

The site in question has several hundred stock images that I purchased from depositphotos and I have a standard license for all of them.

Now, I understand that you cannot transfer the license, and even worse, the buyer has to repurchase all of the images again, however, I've now been told from Depositphotos that I cannot sell the website at all.

Surely there has been any other instances where people have sold their sites and simply repurchased the images for the buyer.

The site does not focus on images as they only compliment the main content.

Any experienced comments would be appreciated.

Cheers,,

N
#images #selling #stock #website
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  • Profile picture of the author vishwa
    You can communicate with the buyer and tell him that you give him the website without images or ask for any other options so he buy the stock images again for himself. There is nothing you can do as you are unable to transfer the image ownership.
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  • Profile picture of the author nicoli
    Thanks, Yes is what I thought would satisfy the legal requirements, however, Olga from support has specifically stated that any wesbites with depositphotos on them cannot be sold.

    Certainly an interesting one. I may try to raise it with their senior management to get further clarity and use a different stock image provider in the future.
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    • Profile picture of the author Mark Singletary
      Originally Posted by nicoli View Post

      Thanks, Yes is what I thought would satisfy the legal requirements, however, Olga from support has specifically stated that any wesbites with depositphotos on them cannot be sold.
      I'm not a lawyer - please ignore every word I write because if you follow anything I say you'll probably get sued.

      Listen this is a common sense issue. They can NOT say you can't sell your site. They can say you can't sell the site with their images on them, though.

      So take the images off and have the new owner buy them again under their name.

      This is crazy. It's like saying that because I made a logo for you, you now can't sell your site. I can control the license on my logo but have zero claim on your website, domain name, hosting, or anything else.

      Think about this. Lots of news organizations like CNN use these commercial stock photo sites for photos. Are you saying that they would say CNN.com cannot be sold - the website because there are a few photos on the site? They can say CNN has to take them off but they aren't going to hold up for 5 seconds CNN's desire to sell its website.

      Mark
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      • Profile picture of the author ditchwix
        I agree 100%. I have even seen the same stock images on different stock photo sites.
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  • Profile picture of the author nicoli
    Mark,

    My thoughts exactly. Considering the poor English Olga used to communicate the message, I believe I am dealing with the wrong person/misunderstanding her. Surely ones website cannot be held to ransom.

    It's very clear that the buyer needs to repurchase the images (disgusting business practice, I know) and they will be doing that.

    Given the additional work in reuploading hundreds of images, I'm going to just send the list of files to the buyer, ensure he buys them all and then transfer the site. As far as I am concerned, the legal (and indeed extortionate) requirements have then been met.

    I certainly won't be spending any money with deposit photos again though, given how they have communicated this and dealt with the situation.

    Has anybody dealt with a stock media provider that allows standard license transfers?
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  • Profile picture of the author DaveMartin
    As per your previous comment. If there is a substantial amount of money involved, I would hire an outsourcer to remove the images and then compile a file with the image links and where they go on the site.

    The outsoucer could also add the images back to the site. In saying that it sounds totally nonsensical to remove the images, sell the site, repurchase the images and add them again.

    Surely you could sell the site as is with a links to all the images and repurchase them again so they are fully licensed again for the new owner.

    Either way try to speak to somebody senior within depositphotos because there has to be a common sense solution.
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  • Profile picture of the author nicoli
    Thanks, Dave.

    Yes, I agree. I'm currently trying to break through the gatekeepers to get to the higher management.

    Considering it's something I will be repeating, it's worth having proper clarity. Certainly common sense should prevail, but that's not the sentiment I am getting from the front line.
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  • Profile picture of the author andreea deka
    Please excuse my ignorance too, I´m just here thinking about this, and my question would be, how are they able to tell which image is which? I mean does every image you buy from a stock site have a secret code embedded in it or something? How can they tell? Do they go looking at random website to check if the images were purchased or not? As far as I understand, you could reverse image search a stock photo, find it on a random website, save it and have the image for free. I have purchased stock photos online from different providers and I don´t even remember the account I used because it was ages ago, I don´t have a receipt for that photo...Please enlighten me...
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    • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
      Originally Posted by andreea deka View Post

      Please excuse my ignorance too, I´m just here thinking about this, and my question would be, how are they able to tell which image is which? I mean does every image you buy from a stock site have a secret code embedded in it or something? How can they tell? Do they go looking at random website to check if the images were purchased or not? As far as I understand, you could reverse image search a stock photo, find it on a random website, save it and have the image for free. I have purchased stock photos online from different providers and I don´t even remember the account I used because it was ages ago, I don´t have a receipt for that photo...Please enlighten me...
      First of all, you can't just go to some random website, save an image, and "have it for free." You would be violating the copyright of the image creator. You can get sued for that.

      Second, there are copyright trolls that go after people and if you cannot produce verification that you have the right to use an image, you will get sued by them.

      If you are currently using images on any sites you own that you cannot prove you have the rights to use those images, I would take them down right away.
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  • Profile picture of the author nicoli
    OK so I finally got through to somebody in upper management. Here are the key takeaways from the exchange and more importantly saved in writing:

    "Please note that you may sell the website with our pictures like a product, without licenses for pictures usage. If the buyer of the website needs the rights for images they need to purchase the files. You can not export the files and list of the files from your buyer menu as it is not allowed. If you like to have the right to transfer licenses one image will cost $200."

    ..and, after querying for clarity..

    "Yes, you may sell. The buyer will have the right to use the website with articles as you described, however can not extract the pictures and use them separately."

    So to summarise, I was slightly misled by initial front-line and can confirm that you can sell a website with the images on it. However, the buyer of said site, must understand that even though they own the website and it's content, they cannot reuse the images for additional purposes unless they go and purchase them.

    In my experience, this thread still should not constitute for any legal advice regardless of the replies from the stock provider and I would encourage anybody else in the same position to ensure they get something in writing from their stock provider.

    Given the amount of claimants and trolls as Mike mentioned above, it's worth treating every purchase/sale of a site as a separate case with the provider in that you should have something in writing from them, every time.

    I trust this brings some clarity for anybody facing the same predicament.
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
    Originally Posted by andreea deka View Post

    Please excuse my ignorance too, I´m just here thinking about this, and my question would be, how are they able to tell which image is which? I mean does every image you buy from a stock site have a secret code embedded in it or something? How can they tell? Do they go looking at random website to check if the images were purchased or not? As far as I understand, you could reverse image search a stock photo, find it on a random website, save it and have the image for free. I have purchased stock photos online from different providers and I don´t even remember the account I used because it was ages ago, I don´t have a receipt for that photo...Please enlighten me...
    Actually, most digital photos, stock image or not, have meta data embedded in them. Stock photos will have things like the owner of the photo, the license granted, the dates involved and more.

    Anyone seeking copyright violations simply scans the web looking for the relevant meta data. Cross-reference that with purchase databases, and bingo, you're busted.

    Just because you swipe the photo from a site other than the stock image site, the license data is still there.

    Interesting side note...there have been multiple incidents of terror cells and drug cartels embedding secret messages in innocent looking photos and using social media and email to pass the messages in plain site. Of course, now that the authorities have twigged to the method, it's a lot harder now.
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  • Profile picture of the author ryanbiddulph
    I'd go with a lawyer on this one. Warriors can give you a nudge but if you feel unclear or a bit scared, take the appropriate legal channels to step forward with confidence.
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    • Profile picture of the author nicoli
      Originally Posted by ryanbiddulph View Post

      I'd go with a lawyer on this one. Warriors can give you a nudge but if you feel unclear or a bit scared, take the appropriate legal channels to step forward with confidence.
      There is no need as I have confirmation in writing. A solicitor isn't required at this point, nor if you have such confirmation from the stock provider. A solicitor would be required if they disputed their confirmation.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    Seems the problem was getting 'up' to a chain of command that was authorized to explain and capable of understanding what you were asking.

    It makes sense that you can sell the site - and also makes sense the new owner cannot use the images on other sites. Sounds like a win-win to me. Good on you for sticking with it till you received an informed answer.

    Congrats on the sale!
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