this question just came up as we recently bought content from image stock portals. Many of those altered their license agreement in favor of charging more for using in mobile apps. So instead of using their standard licenses, you need to pay an "extended" licenses which multiplies the fee easily by 5-10.

That doesn't make sense as the mobile device is just a smaller browser and protects the content even better than a desktop computer.

Are those stock agencies allowed to do that, and is it legal at all ? I am not a lawyer but I would even risk to go on with the standard license and wait to be sued in that matter.

  • Why wouldn't it be legal?
    – John Conde
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 15:39
  • Because there is no difference in re-distributing the content it self. That the screen is smaller and device isn't hard wired should have no impact at all. So, mobiles are actually not different from desktop, or ? Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 15:46
  • It's entirely legal to charge YOU higher prices, but they have no enforcement. (ie., it's not ILLEGAL for you to use their "normal" license on mobile browsers.)
    – ionFish
    Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 15:49
  • @ionFish , I am not a laywer and not from the USA so I am not up-to-date. Here in the EU we can't charge higher or different for self-invented reasons. Otherwise, they could charge for the fact you're older than 50 or similar but I guess this is what you meant by "no enforcement". Thanks. Commented Jun 25, 2012 at 15:54

1 Answer 1


Its debatable because companies will charge more for bigger images because they suspect you will use those images for poster-size projects. Cross-platform use may encompass mobile use, such as using images in videos, CDs, web templates, etc. warrant a different policy then the regular norm.

You may want to contact the stock image vendor directly that's what I did to clarify some policy related issues.

  • Hi, on mobile devices we always use smaller images than normal. I am aware that they don't want have larger resolutions distributed. Then about asking them for clarification, somebody asked iStock and afterwards they changed the license agreement explicitly for iPhone apps(only!) : "Extend License must be applied" but without any further reasoning. As nobody got something clear yet (And I did read a lot about it!), I suspect that they rather try to catch people with those "conditions" not having any idea about the legal base for such demands. There was also not one lawsuit yet btw. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 16:36
  • If you are redistributing images packaged with apps, then you will definitely need an extended license agreement. But if you are not planning on redistributing content, such as using an image on your mobile site, then you will probably not need an extended agreement. I asked a similar question to BigStock about using an image on both a CD cover & YouTube slideshow, and I was told I wouldn't need one. Also most vendors have a limit to the amount that can be distributed/printed before an extended agreement is needed.
    – nycmixing
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 16:43
  • Thats right, I am pulling the images and icons from the server, so its like distribution for web browsing. Thanks. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 16:50

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