In the Unsplash License we say, “This license does not include the right to compile photos from Unsplash to replicate a similar or competing service.”
The Unsplash License is a reflection of our company Manifesto in which we state our aim is to build a platform that inspires creativity and respects creators who offer their work to the community.
The fuel that drives Unsplash is the exceptional images that are generously contributed by people from all over the world. Without them, none of this would work. Unsplash would be nothing. We owe everyone who’s contributed a photo not only a thank you but support and empowerment for the gifts they’ve given us.
Out of respect for our contributors and our ability to uphold our value of empowering creativity, we added this sentence to the Unsplash License.
We don’t support the mass duplication of Unsplash photos with the purpose of replicating a similar or competing service because it leads to confusion which negatively impacts both the spirit of open creative use and the celebration of Unsplash contributors.
While the Unsplash License itself cannot be revoked for photos that have already been downloaded from Unsplash, we allow Unsplash contributors to stop further distribution of their photo, and that’s not possible if the photo is redistributed without user permission on other sites. There are very few public places where people don’t have the ability to close their account or remove their content to some degree and we want Unsplash to follow that out of respect for our contributing photographers. Similarly, sites that redistribute the photos through crawling, scraping, and mass compiling techniques either redistribute them without credit or they create fake accounts for contributors with their name and personal information without permission. Some download the entire library and redistribute it for profit, which until now, is something we’ve had little power to approach.
Mass compiling of Unsplash photos to create a similar service has also created legal issues which confuses open creative use. If an Unsplash photo is copied to another site but is later removed from Unsplash (for instance, if there is a copyright complaint or it fails to comply with our Terms of Service), the photo will continue to be distributed on other platforms, potentially causing legal problems for the photographers and creators.
Finally, sites that mass duplicate and compile Unsplash photos point support and legal issues back to Unsplash, while continuing to redistribute photos that may be removed on Unsplash. This hurts community trust in Unsplash, creating support and legal cases we can’t control, and increases our support and legal costs in an unsustainable way.
Creativity should be open and those who contribute should be celebrated. This part of the Unsplash License ensures we can continue to do our best to fulfil this mission.