I have developed a mobile application which contains and displays pictures of celebrities. All pictures are licensed with a CC BY-SA. The app is commercial.

Unfortunately, when I published the app on Google Play, Google rejected it for "violating Intellectual Property policy."

I have made an appeal for my case which led to a discussion in which I learned my app was rejected because: "images related to films are most likely protected by the various studios that produced and released them. It is reasonable to assume that these would not be made legally available in public domain or via Creative Commons as most studios are extremely protective of their intellectual property."

I emailed back, saying that all pictures had a CC BY-SA license with examples like this one: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Emma_Stone_2011.jpg (license is at the bottom of the page)

I am no law expert, so maybe I have overlooked something. I thought using in my app pictures with this license would prevent me from such copyright problems. Have I missed something?

Thanks for your help.


You don't have a right to publish on Google Play. The platform is owned by Google and they have the right to reject your work for whatever reason they want - legally justified or not.

But why would they?

Even if your app doesn't actually have any copyright problems, Google might still be afraid that it does. All proof they have is your word, and all proof you have is the word of anonymous wikimedia commons contributors. Google doesn't want to spend the resources to confirm for themselves that every single image is indeed rightfully CC-BY-SA licensed. And when they don't want to, you can not force them to take your business.

  • Hey Philipp, thanks for your answer. I understand it's all about not wanting to take a risk. If the license on the wikimedia page is not a sure proof, do you think the source page of the picture would be sure enough? flickr.com/photos/g155/5976740893
    – Don
    Nov 12 '15 at 9:40
  • @Don ask Google what proof they would accept, not me.
    – Philipp
    Nov 12 '15 at 9:45
  • Unfortunately, they can not always speak as freely as one can on stackexchange, so it is very difficult to understand what they accept or don't.
    – Don
    Nov 12 '15 at 9:48
  • @Don Developing for walled gardens is fun, isn't it?
    – Philipp
    Nov 12 '15 at 12:10

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