Why is some content marked "Editorial Use Only?"

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.

Example of what Editorial Use Only mark looks like.

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."

Is there any way to use editorial images commercially?
Shutterstock may be able to work with the photographer and any rights holders to acquire commercial use rights in certain cases. Learn more here.

  • Was this article helpful?

Can’t find what you’re looking for?