What are editorial images licences?

An editorial image license for stock photos enables the buyer to use the stock photos for non- commercial purposes only. A photo that holds only an editorial license will be hightlighted by the stock agency. An editorial license on a a stock photo indicates that the photo shows a brand of a product, a public personality without a signed release, or may have limited releases. For stock photo buyers, it is important to understand how an image with an editorial license can be used. The why is up to the photographer and the stock photo agency who determine the license.

How can an editorial image be used

An image with an editorial image can only be used in the following ways:

  1. In a newspaper or magazine article
  2. On a blog or website to describe an idea not to brand
  3. In a non-commercial presentation (video, slideshow)

An editorial image can only be used in ways where this is no personal benefit or commercial gain.

An editorial licensed image can not be used for the following:

  1. Any commercial purposes including advertising or promotions
  2. To receive any fees from a third party sponsor or endorsement

How do I know a photo has an editorial license

Only a few stock photography agencies have editorial licensed images. Dreamstime, iStockphoto, 123rf, Shutterstock and Bigstock. On each of these stock photo agency websites you have the option to search for editorial licenses images. The stock agency websites highlight that the image has an editorial image so check what their format is.

How do I avoid editorial licenced images in my search

istockphoto editorial > What are editorial images licences?

When you know you are using a stock photo for commercial purposes, narrowing your search terms on any of the stock agencies that offer editorial licensed images is best. iStockphoto places a watermark on their editorial photos that states, editorial image.You can request in your search that editorial images be left out so your search for a commercially used image does include these stock photos. Dreamstime has licensing options as part of their search criteria so you can search for just Royalty free images. If you forget to request just Royalty free images, when you go to purchase your stock photo, it clearly states that the image has only an editorial license.

Why would I want to buy an editorial licensed photo

If you are reviewing a product on your blog, it is useful to have a photo of the product you are reviewing.  A stock photo of an iPad or Blackberry would be an example. If you are on vacation and want to write a review about a product you came across on your travels, you can find the product with its logo on stock photo agency websites.

Editorial licensed stock photos serve a purpose, and as a buyer of stock photos it is important to understand the uses for editorial images as opposed to Royalty free. You can also conduct a better image search if you know to block editorial licensed images from your search options.

I am a publisher and entrepreneur in the stock imagery field. I focus on providing knowledge and solutions for buyers, contributors and agencies, aiming at contributing to the growth and development of the industry. I am the founder and editor of Stock Photo Press, one of the largest networks of online magazines in the industry. I am the founder of Microstock Expo, the only conference dedicated to the microstock segment. I created several software solutions in stock photography like WordPress plugins. Plus I am a recurrent speaker at Photokina Official Stage, and an industry consultant at StockPhotoInsight. I am passionate about technology, marketing and visual imagery.

  1. I am curious, what if the editorial-use-only image is used on a website of a conference, which is of non-commercial purpose? eg: a knowledge-based conference…

    • Hi Charotte, thank you for your question. This is hard to answer without seeing the actual usage of the image. Editorial images usually can used i.e. in blogs, online-magazines or newspapers. If the website has i.e. a company blog and they use the image within a blogpost, it might be OK.

  2. If a website sells things but the Editorial image is used as a Category image (i.e. a general introduction image) rather than as a product page image where you’re offering something for sale is an Editorial image acceptable to use?

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