Licensing content types

Commercial or Editorial. Knowing the difference and understanding what type of content is considered safe for commercial use versus what is restricted to editorial use only will help make the submission process smoother.

What’s a ‘commercial’ image?

Commercial images tend to communicate aspirational concepts or ideas making them ideal for advertising a variety of products and services worldwide. Because of their broad use as a promotional tool a signed model release is required for any recognizable people shown in commercial photos (even self portraits!). Our buyers need assurance that everyone in the photo has given their consent to being featured especially when they are the primary focus of the image.

The same applies to private property/locations, and buildings or properties protected by intellectual property (IP) laws. For the same reason all logos and branding should be avoided whenever possible, or otherwise retouched out of the photo entirely.

Examples of commercial use include:

  • Advertising in print and digital media campaigns
  • Marketing and promotional materials
  • Corporate presentations and brochures
  • Commercial websites
  • Product packaging
  • Film and television
  • Books and book covers

What’s an ‘editorial’ image?

Editorial photos document real-life issues, current events, and stories of human interest across the globe in a truthful manner. They are used as an effective way to strengthen newspaper and magazine articles, blog posts, and other written commentaries by lending visual context to a story.

Since the vast majority of people and places depicted in Editorial images are not released, they are not suitable for promotional use of any kind—they can be used in a journalistic or informative way only. For this reason, a great deal of street and travel photography is considered editorial only.

Please keep in mind that unreleased photos aren't automatically considered editorial, they must convey enough context to support a newsworthy or topical theme.

Examples of editorial use include:

  • Newspaper and magazine articles
  • Editorial features
  • Blog or website (for descriptive purposes)
  • News broadcasts
  • Documentaries
  • Textbooks
  • Essays and journals

Are there any exceptions in licensing?

Ticketed Events & Locations: taking photos of an event or inside a location that charges an admission fee will almost always require permission, even for editorial use, due to the intellectual property they protect. Many of these events and locations are restricted to accredited members of the press so it’s essential that a press pass, property release, permit, or contract issued and/or signed by an authorized representative of the organization is uploaded with your submission.

Examples of ticketed locations and events:

  • Museums
  • Art Galleries
  • Pro Sporting matches
  • Theatre Performances
  • Concerts and Music Festivals
  • Conventions
  • Trade Shows

The most important thing to remember is that it’s all about context and how an image can be used. If you’re still unsure, take a look at these examples of editorial and commercial versions of the same subject.