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Is it OK to post a screenshot taken from home page of the software or from another page dedicated to the software?

Example: I see relevant screenshot at www.example.com/screenshot1.jpg

What level of grabbing is acceptable?

A. Hot-linking: post a link directly referring to the screenshot (www.example.com/screenshot1.jpg) Concern: this is drawing bandwidth from the site (in many cases metered and paid by volume)

B. Copying: make verbatim copy of www.example.com/screenshot1.jpg and upload the file to answer. Concern: copyrights - re-posting of site content should be done with explicit consent of site owner

C. Derived work: use only relevant image area of www.example.com/screenshot1.jpg and upload the file to answer as image (the image won't be the same as the original). (i.e. always create a derivative work. Do not post a screenshot which is original elsewhere.)

D. Own work: get and use the software, then create own original screenshot

  • It is a common misunderstanding that only using a part of an image is allowed by copyright. – idmean Aug 1 '15 at 13:24
  • @idmean - for benefit of the others, please give some good source – miroxlav Aug 1 '15 at 13:58
  • Summary of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1886): (2)(b) Subject to certain allowed reservations, limitations or exceptions, the following are among the rights that must be recognized as exclusive rights of authorization: [...] the right to make adaptations and arrangements of the work [...] – idmean Aug 1 '15 at 14:17
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    Stack Meta question about what images can be embedded in questions/answers: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/101802/… – Nicolas Raoul Aug 6 '15 at 9:17
  • @idmean – considering clipping taken from common trivial screenshot, it can be difficult to prove that it originated at that screenshot (if the example at screenshot is trivial), but moreover, there is no point in chasing somebody for picture of circle painted in graphics editor XY. I think potential difficulties can come only with more ellaborate examples. – miroxlav Aug 6 '15 at 13:40
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A is definitely frowned upon by most website owners (myself included: if I find a site excessively hotlinking, I send mod_rewrite to take care for that – taking the hotlink as invitation to place a banner of my choice ;)

As Timmy brought that up in a comment (asking whether my statement to A also applies to e.g. Google Play), let me add that there's something more to be considered here: other sites might remove content, so your deeplinked image will be gone. SE has an "own account" with Imgur, where it hosts images you upload. I'd always prefer that as it minimizes the risk of "dead images".

B should be OK as long as you point out the source (link to the page where you took it from). After all, you're advertizing their product and even point users to their site – they should thank you and pay you a commission! But yeah, there might be "trolls" taking that as invitation for something else – being ignorant to the fact they scare off potential customers that way.

C I would avoid, as that's infringing with the author's rights1 – who might feel that a "defacement" or whatever. Exceptions might be adding some "arrows" to point things out.

D always is the preferred solution, whenever possible, and to my knowledge also the "safest" concerning copyright & co.

Hard to give a definitive answer. To be 100% safe you should draw your own screenshots by hand, maybe ;)


1: "derivate works", thankx to miroxlav for the link; miroxlav also suggests that adding distinguishable annotation or providing only clipped/zoomed part of the image for explanation purposes can be acceptable.

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