Is it fair? Why some of you use stock photos for watercolor paintings if it's forbidden?

“To confirm Creative Market is a marketplace for original from scratch digital work. If your portfolio is based on using references of other existing artwork/material of which you do not own the full copyright, this work would not be accepted for the marketplace.
To best set yourself up for success both for opening a shop on Creative Market, please ensure that your portfolio contains 100% of your own from scratch work that is not referenced/derivative of existing media on the Shutterstock website”.
I was lucky to get this answer from the support before I started posting for sale my watercolor animals. It’s clear we aren’t allowed to sell watercolor paintings created by using public domain or microstock images as a reference. So why so many sellers still sell derivatives here? Why are they allowed?

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I think the language you got from CM there is pretty confusing. I believe they are talking about basing your actual product(s) on another creatives work; as in, using someone else’s ‘100% created from scratch’ (for your above example above, watercolour animals) artwork that can be found on Creative Market or another stock website and creating yours based on that. Using reference and stock images is fine to show ‘previews’, or as examples of how an action or brush set might work…provided you have purchased the correct license to use for commercial use and allows for modifying the file. This file obviously wouldn’t be for sale/distribution and is not an actual ‘product’, merely illustrating the effect of your product.

You can’t really apply copyright to ‘reference’ material (if it is used exclusively as reference)…however if you are creating a product that is based on and derivative of another creative’s work, then that is absolutely an issue and just scabby, bad form.

But you’re right, I see a lot of derivative work on here, particularly in fonts. Granted, letterforms have to have some semblance of consistency: an A needs to look like an A, however if you jump into the ‘serif’ category for example, the amount of fonts in here that look like knock-offs of each other is mind-boggling, right down to the colour and composition of preview images. I’ve seen another shop sell a font that it almost identical to one of mine, and again the preview images seem to be entirely based off it, the only difference is the colour scheme.

Copyright is a tough and very wide minefield to control, but it does seem that there are a lot of people getting away with what can only be described as plagiarism.