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Can I download all the hat images and use them as my profile picture?

I actually like some of them, and want to keep them for future use.

  • Me too, I like the Defender of Realm most and wish to set it as my profile picture. – Midhun MP Dec 20 '13 at 6:59
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Disclaimer: I am not a Lawyer, but I play one on SE

Executive Summary

Downloading the content is not an issue.

You can re-use them for 'personal non-commercial use' only.

What Does the TOS Say?

Here is an abridged version of the Terms of Service:

The Network and its contents are intended solely for the use of the Network Subscribers and may only be used in accordance with the terms of this Agreement. All materials displayed or performed on the Network, including, but not limited to text, graphics, logos, tools, photographs, images, illustrations, software or source code, audio and video, and animations (collectively, “Content”) (other than Content posted by Subscriber (“Subscriber Content”)) are the property of Stack Exchange and/or third parties and are protected by United States and international copyright laws.

...

Subscriber shall abide by all copyright notices, information, and restrictions contained in any Content accessed through the Services.

...

Other than as expressly set forth in this Agreement, Subscriber may not copy, modify, publish, transmit, upload, participate in the transfer or sale of, reproduce (except as provided in this Section), create derivative works based on, distribute, perform, display, or in any way exploit, any of the Content, software, materials, or Services in whole or in part.

Subscriber may download or copy the Content, and other items displayed on the Network for download, for personal use, provided that Subscriber maintains all copyright and other notices contained in such Content.

...

Any other downloading, copying, or storing any Content for other than personal, noncommercial use is expressly prohibited without prior written permission from Stack Exchange, or from the copyright holder identified in such Content's copyright notice.

Can I Download Them?

The above license is very clear on what you are allowed to do:

Any other downloading, copying, or storing any Content for other than personal, noncommercial use is expressly prohibited without prior written permission from Stack Exchange, or from the copyright holder identified in such Content's copyright notice.

Without their permission, you can download, copy, or store the content for personal, noncommercial use.

So Can I Re-Use These Images?

Without the written permission of Stack Exchange, you cannot re-use them on Stack Exchange as that wouldn't be 'personal non-commercial use' most likely.

In reality, many of us are already re-using the content in meta posts and the like, and if Stack Exchange feels the need can smite us, ban us, sue us, or otherwise be mean to us for violating the terms of use. Chances are that re-using Network Content on their Network isn't at the top of their priority lists for copyright enforcement.

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  • There is content, and there is content - first, there is CC for user-generated content and second, there are Fair Use laws that allows use without permission for purpose of critique, clarifications etc - and that's exactly what Meta is about. – Mołot Dec 20 '13 at 7:54
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    I am delaying all other projects we have working until a 'Smite User' button has been properly implemented. That was a brilliant idea. (In all seriousness, I'm going to see if I can get this answered when NYC wakes up). – Tim Post Dec 20 '13 at 7:54
  • @Mołot, this falls under 'Content' not 'Subscriber Content' which would be CC-BY-SA. 'Content' is protected under SE copyright, and republishing them as your user icon is quite likely not critique or clarification and is specifically prohibited by the agreement. You can argue fair use when they sue you, but it seems to be pretty clearly against the terms of service (regardless of if the TOS are enforceable, which I am not going to touch on) – jmac Dec 20 '13 at 7:57
  • I was addressing your last paragraph with my previous comment, sorry for not making that clear. – Mołot Dec 20 '13 at 7:59
  • @Mołot, I don't think they'd sue me over it, but they'd have a clear case to take me to court over regardless of if I could argue fair use in court, it'd be a pretty clear loss for me. – jmac Dec 20 '13 at 8:00

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