I have used icons from various sites that says they are free for commercial projects. This includes sites like iconspedia where anyone can upload stuff.
I am very cautious and whenever I use one I take a screenshot of the entire website including its URL and the license. I do the same with free photography from sxc, etc.
It occurred to me when obtaining graphics in this manner, just because something claims to be free on a website does not make it so. If I used a “free” graphic that turned out to be under a more restrictive license, what position would I be in legally?
Am I being paranoid? I must say, I've been in the game for years and have never known anyone get accused of anything like this—and they're way less careful then I am.
If you (i) can show that you used the images in good faith, having a good reason to believe that you were allowed to use them, and (ii) remove the images as soon as you are given evidence that shows you may not use them – then it would be hard for them to build a case against you, especially if you can give them the details of the site that is promoting their images for free, that's a bigger fish for them to fry!
But that is speaking as a layman with no legal training...
That would be your proof that you thought that it was allowed - and if it turns out that you are not allowed then you have collected the evidence for the real owner that they need to take the action against that site for distributing their copyrighted work.
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