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I am building an online store for a vinyl company and I want to create an application to help them add cover artwork to their store. Am I legally allowed to use the artwork from freecovers.net on their online store? Will I get sued?

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Am I legally allowed to use the artwork from freecovers.net on their online store?

Maybe.

Will I get sued?

Maybe.

I had a look at their site and when trying to follow the link to the "Terms of Use" page all I got was a broken database query so I can't see whet they say about it. However, reading their FAQ and the way they source their covers there is a very real chance that there are potential copyright breaches involved.

Put simply, the covers are somebody's copyright. In general, they have been uploaded without the copyright holder's permission. The use that FreeCovers.net makes of them may meet fair use/fair dealing provisions in the copyright acts of the relevant jurisdictions (i.e. basically every jurisdiction in the world for online use) or they may not - that is between the copyright holder and FreeCovers.net. It is likely that they would in the USA; in places like the UK or Australia it is likely that they wouldn't - what is fair use/fair dealing depends on jurisdiction.

What you are proposing to do (use the covers in a profit making venture) is extremely unlikely to be considered fair use/fair dealing anywhere and may leave you open to being sued by the copyright holder - whether that suit is successful is a matter for the court.

However, if you are selling the records then it is highly likely that the copyright holder of the music and the cover art are the same organisation i.e. the record company. If you approached them for permission to use the cover art and they agree, then you are home and hosed.

  • Good answer, but don't you Aussies know that "hosed" means pretty much the opposite in the U.S. (at least)? – feetwet Aug 4 '15 at 18:56
  • I can't be held responsible for the way you Americans break a perfectly good language 😀 – Dale M Aug 4 '15 at 20:35
  • TIL - "home and hosed" = home free – jqning Aug 6 '15 at 0:37

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