I found a vector graphic I want to use on a site A that offers free graphics under the Creative Commons License. Later I found that same graphic on a different (paid) site B, under their standard license (which does not allow distribution).

I assume there are two possibilities:

  1. Site A bought it from site B and put it under CC license
  2. Site B downloaded it from site A and put it up for sale on their site

In either case, can I safely download and use it from site A? Or is it my responsibility to always try to determine if something has a different license somewhere else?

  • Where are you located? Copyright may be slightly different.
    – Terry
    Oct 8, 2015 at 13:33
  • Living in germany.
    – joshflosh
    Oct 8, 2015 at 13:34

1 Answer 1


Case 2 is clearcut: assuming that site A is the author of the artwork, or is the site where the author first published, you've got a clear right to use the work under the given Creative Commons license.

Case 1 is more difficult: transfer of a copy of a work does not, in general, transfer the copyright as well. Unless site A purchased or otherwise obtained the rights to re-license the work, their Creative Commons license statement is invalid.

  • Case #1 could result in "innocent infringement" liability for anyone reliant on A's claim to be able to license it.
    – feetwet
    Oct 9, 2015 at 1:33
  • While I understand that in Case 1 Site A probably doesn’t have the right to license the work, can i be held responsible for using it from them? I guess that’s what "innocent infringement“ means @feetwet?
    – joshflosh
    Oct 9, 2015 at 11:16

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