I am developing a game using sprite kit.
When we create a new Spritekit project, by default a spaceship image is present in it.

I can delete the icon and make my own but I really like that icon for my spaceship-related game.

Can I use that sprite for my game or it will be a copyright infringement?

And what copyright usages are there on it, is it Public and does it have Attribution 3.0 license?

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about Copyright. – Tetsujin Feb 6 '15 at 18:55
  • please donot close it soon, because i though there will be a lot of devs here who might know this. May be can you suggest some alternative stack to post it – santhu Feb 6 '15 at 18:58
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    This isn't off topic. It's about how to use Apple provided products and licensing issues. Clearly, a lawyer is needed to know given the licensing, what's legal or risky in certain places, but this is just like questions on whether you can use garage band sounds in a song that you wish to sell or distribute. – bmike Feb 6 '15 at 19:00

The Xcode license and your developer agreement are the two documents you should read carefully to be certain you understand your obligations, but Xcode is delivered to developers for the express purpose of making apps.

Clearly, the graphic elements like buttons and standard API are permitted use - royalty free per the licensing term. This is covered in the Xcode agreement which on some versions reads like this:

F. Use of System-Provided Images. The system-provided images owned by Apple and documented as such in Apple's Human Interface Guidelines for OS X and iOS ("System-Provided Images") are licensed to you solely for the purpose of developing OS X and iOS applications, respectively, using the Developer Software. Upon termination of this License, you may continue to distribute the System-Provided Images as used within software you developed using the Developer Software; however, you agree to provide to Apple, at Apple's request, a copy of any software you developed using the Developer Software that incorporates any of the System-Provided Images so Apple may determine, in its sole discretion, whether your use of the System-Provided Images complies with these terms.

I've seen all sorts of programs use default sprites and effects, but you might want to consider paying someone for an alternate image if you are really uncomfortable with your understanding of the rules you agreed to to develop software using Apple's tools. To me, it seems that Apple would have paid for the rights to that artwork and you don't need to further compensate that artist as long as you are abiding by the agreements you signed with Apple to use Xcode.

If I were doing this, I would re-read the entire agreement I signed before sending that app to the App store - for many reasons beyond just this one image. If you are paying to be a Mac developer, you can certainly ask developer support to be clear that they understand your intentions and you have something in writing before shipping the app.

It really depends on several factors:

  • Will you then use this in marketing materials or does it just show up in the app?
  • Is it your app's Home Screen icon and store icon?
  • Are you going through App Review and only distributing your app through Apple?
  • What's the budget for your entire development?
  • Do you have a lawyer that you pay to keep you out of trouble?
  • thank you. I will read your answer again. I have ios developer membership and already posted it in dev forums but not a reply. Last resort either get a new icon or use Apple Tech Assistance support(TAS) , just worried only 2 TAS available. – santhu Feb 6 '15 at 19:22
  • I wouldn't use a TAS unless it was about to expire for this. I'd call in to phone support / send an email asking for clarification of the assets. I'd frame it similar to looking for the "OK" in the license similar to the license to use Garage Band loops for music creation. – bmike Feb 6 '15 at 19:29
  • thanks, great read and very informative. By posting this question with attached image, i guess i already breached the copyright if one is there. Yeah i will now try the email one.thanks again. – santhu Feb 6 '15 at 19:30
  • You are in good company - do a google reverse image search on that image and you'll see it on several posts on Stack Exchange as well as many developer blogs. – bmike Feb 6 '15 at 19:34
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    @psmears Thanks! I should have read more carefully – bmike Feb 7 '15 at 0:16

Until you can find an explicit statement from Apple saying the artwork is copyright free and suitable for public use assume it is copyright and do not distribute it.

Ideally, contact Apple Developer Technical Support or Apple's legal department and ask them directly.

Be careful of assuming a right to use Apple's artwork or images. Apple have previously rejected apps from the Mac App Store for this reason.

  • Thanks. Before i thought the same but we use sparks and particle emitters, they also contain images which gets added to the project when we add them , (similar to the spaceship which is added by default) and we are legally right to use emitters. Anyway i will wait for some time and contact tech support. – santhu Feb 6 '15 at 19:04
  • I disagree with the first sentence. Apple provides these images and source code libraries to speed development of apps. See my answer for details. I certainly am not saying this is legal anywhere in the world, but in the US - it would be Apple that's responsible for clearing this asset and not each developer IMO. Just because there is copyright on artwork doesn't mean you don't have a license to use it by virtue of accepting Apple's Xcode license terms and complying with them. – bmike Feb 6 '15 at 19:17
  • I urge particular caution if the final product is to be submitted to the Mac App Store; note Rogue Amoeba's similar experience. Recreating the graphic now will bypass future problems. – Graham Miln Feb 6 '15 at 21:15

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