Cover Design x Shutterstock!


Hi folks! Thanks ahead of time.

I’m considering self publishing, and I’ve found some stock photos I really like. I’ve looked over the terms, and everything is fine, but I’m still trying to figure out one part.

I understand the images cannot be used to depict obscene or pornographic content. Does this include the textual content in the book or only the visual content of the model (such as if there is a brief sex scene or a bit of gore)?


Defining obscene and pornographic is very subjective.

My guess is they’re talking about the content of the book. But a brief sex scene or a bit of gore shouldn’t be considered obscene or pornographic for most people. By the way, the Supreme Court ruled on what’s obscene when it comes to literature. If it passes the Miller Test, it’s not obscene. One of the factors of the Miller Test is whether it has literary merit.



That’s where my line of thought was. I’m still waiting to hear back from the stock photo site. I’m usually pretty good with terms, but I want to be extra careful. I’m still not sure if this one will have any explicit sex or not, but I want to be sure just in case. It’s a vampire book, so there is a bit of blood, but that one doesn’t concern me as much.

I hadn’t known about the Miller Test. I’ll take a look at that. Learn something new everyday :smiley:


It’s good to be cautious. There’s definitely a gray area, but some authors have been sued for misusing a photo.

According to Shutterstock:

YOU MAY NOT portray any person depicted in Visual Content (a “Model”) in a way that a reasonable person would find offensive, including but not limited to depicting a Model: a) in connection with pornography, ‘adult videos’, adult entertainment venues, escort services, dating services, or the like; b) in connection with the advertisement or promotion of tobacco products; c) in a political context, such as the promotion, advertisement or endorsement of any party, candidate, or elected official, or in connection with any political policy or viewpoint; d) as suffering from, or medicating for, a physical or mental ailment; or e) engaging in immoral or criminal activities.”

There are lots of articles online about this. But if you really want some legal advice, just hire/consult with an IP attorney.


That’s really interesting.


From wikipedia:

The Miller test was developed in the 1973 case Miller v. California .[2] It has three parts:

The work is considered obscene only if all three conditions are satisfied.


That was the part of the license that was causing me some confusion. If I get super serious about buying the images and moving forward, I’ll definitely consult someone professionally. I was just curious about other’s interpretations.


Thanks, I’ll look further into this!