Originally Posted by NatCh
It's a good question, and one I don't feel at all qualified to give any sort of definitive answer to, but I expect that it would fall under "fair use" to take a small chunk of an image and use it for totally non-commercial use, as he's doing.
There are probably literally hundreds of avatars here that would fit the same description.
Mine own Avatar is a scan of a picture I own...... And I'm not selling myself in a commercial sense, I wonder if I'm breaking copyright (at least technically)!?!