What is the Difference between Editorial License and Royalty-Free License?

There are three main types of licenses in the stock photo industry – royalty-free, rights-managed and editorial. Royalty-free is the most common and allows the use of stock images in any creative project for as long as it takes. Rights-managed allows the specific use of image for a time. On the other hand, an editorial license only allows the use of images in editorial purposes only – body of article and text of blogs, newspapers, e-books, books and other publications.

Where can you use editorial images?

Editorial license can be used in a use-by-use basis.

  • It can be used in creative projects related to events that are newsworthy or of public interest.
  • As a rule of thumb, editorial images can only be used in association with an editorial article.
  • The article or text must be relevant to the image used. This means that you can use the photo of a celebrity on an article about that celebrity and not to illustrate an article. For instance, you can use Jennifer Lawrence’s photo in an article about her but not on an article about “How to Feng Shui your Apartment.”
  • You cannot use an editorial image in any commercial purposes. This means you cannot use a photo of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt and connect it with your online dating service website.
  • On the other hand, you can use a photo of a Hollywood couple in connection with an article “Love blooms in Hollywood.”

When do you need to purchase a royalty-free license?

If you are planning to use the images for any commercial non-resale purposes, you need a royalty-free license. This means you can the royalty-free image in marketing campaigns, templates, website images and many more. If you are not sure how to use the image, you need to ask the stock photo agency or purchase a royalty-free image to cover your company. If you are not clear on the uses of editorial license, get a royalty-free license.

What makes editorial images different?

As a stock photo buyer, you need to understand how to use an editorial license. Editorial images are different than royalty-free and rights-managed as they contain identifiable people, location and brands. For instance, a photo of a table with a bottle of beer on top is an editorial image if the beer has a brand on it. Photos of people on a beach are also labeled for editorial use only if the photographer failed to acquire model releases.

The stock photo agencies that sell editorial license include Getty Images, iStock and Shutterstock. Just check out the licensing options offered by these stock sites and browse images that fall under the editorial category. You will surely find images that could be useful for your editorial content.    

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