As a non-native English speaker, I'm not very familiar with the license terms of Shutterstock. IMHO I should not use watermarked images and instead buy a license.

If posted on SE sites, the image becomes part of the question or answer and thus is licensed as CC-BY-SA, right? So even I buy a license, I should not use it in a CC-BY-SA post.

Then, should we delete e.g. this Lifehacks answer, which uses a watermarked Shutterstock image?

What is the appropriate action for me? Flag a moderator? Actually, I don't want to create yet another SE account just to flag it.

  • 3
    For this answer, one should find an image from Wikimedia commons that has a compatible license, replace it, and maybe then use the contact us link with the original image information to suggest that such an image doesn't belong on stackexchange's imgur instance. But replacing the image with something properly licensed is easy to do and doesn't require the original copyright holder's intervention.
    – user213963
    Apr 13, 2015 at 22:14
  • @MichaelT: I actually like this idea more than the answer. Apr 14, 2015 at 4:24
  • A way to avoid complications is to provide a link to the copyrighted image (which may be most appropriate for a post when any suitable non-copyrighted image is not available) instead of posting the image directly.
    – Tyto alba
    Apr 14, 2017 at 10:07

1 Answer 1


No, you shouldn't use watermarked images. These are still copyright and you don't have the rights to copy them.

If you find an image you think it's used by someone unfairly then contact the copyright holder (if you can find them) to let them know. It's up to them to contact Stack Exchange to request that the image is taken down. It's not up to a site's moderators to police copyright violations.

If you can find a suitable, non-copyright image (perhaps from Wikimedia commons) then you could replace the copyright image with that. Though that does still leave the copy of the copyright image on imgur which is now not directly linked to and thus slightly harder to find.

  • 2
    I think it's a bit unfair against those people who take the CC-BY-SA Stack Exchange statement for granted, reuse the post (including the image) and then get a written warning because they used a copyrighted image. Other than that, this proposal is even more effort than creating a SE account and flagging the post. But anyway, I think I'll do that in order to prevent others from using it as described before. Apr 13, 2015 at 21:53
  • @ThomasWeller if they've copied from another post on SE, then it's the original you need to bring to the attention of the copyright holder.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Apr 13, 2015 at 21:58
  • 2
    Probably I should bring up all of them, because SE moderators won't clean up any copies, right? Apr 13, 2015 at 22:01

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