You'll see many of Shutterstock's images, vectors, and footage marked as "Editorial Use Only." These content items are not cleared for commercial use, but are instead created for use in news media and other non-commercial purposes (learn about how editorial images can be used).
What makes content "editorial?"
Editorial content is any item that we don't have legal release to license for commercial purposes. The following characteristics might qualify Shutterstock content as editorial:
- It portrays a celebrity. Celebrity images will almost always be Editorial Use Only (like this one).
- It portrays a person without a consent form. If an image was taken of a city street, it will likely include lots of people. In this case, the photographer probably did not have each person sign a consent form, meaning that image can't be used for commercial purposes (here's an example).
- It portrays a trademarked logo or service mark. Any time a clear company logo (or something similar) is displayed, content item will likely be editorial use only. For example, an image of a sidewalk showing an Adidas store and logo (like this one).
- It portrays something else that is trademarked. Many buildings, venues, and locations are trademarked. The Empire State Building, for example, is trademarked, which means that images focused on it can't be used commercially (like this one).
- It was taken on private or trademarked property. Some concert venues and other locations are private/trademarked, so content items shot there will fall into the editorial category (like this one).
- This list is not exhaustive. There may be other reasons a content item qualifies as editorial. If an item is marked as Editorial Use Only, it means our review team identified some kind of legal reason it identify it as such.
What is "commercial use?"
Commercial use is any kind of promotion/advertising for a product or service that generates revenue. The use can be direct or indirect. Direct use could be in an advertisement for a product. Indirect use could be a social media post on a business page that promotes a holiday without specifically selling or promoting the business. Neither of these uses would be permitted if the image is marked as "Editorial Use Only."
Are there ways to use editorial images commercially?
A photo of Madonna available on Shutterstock will be marked as Editorial Use Only. To use such a photo commercially, you'd need to obtain separate permission from Madonna or her legal representative. Shutterstock is not part of this process; you'd need to obtain and retain proof of this special permission.
How can I use editorial content?
We have a page dedicated to how editorial content can be used.