Stock Media APIs: Licensing 101

News
December 12, 2019

Stock Media APIs: Licensing 101


Here’s the skinny on stock media licensing: there are a lot of license options out there, and the details can quickly get confusing. From Creative Commons to royalty-free, the different levels of licensing provide a vast array of protection to the people that download and use media. 

But as a company using a stock media API, why would you care about correctly licensing the stock media you push through your platform? All you’re doing is providing content to your end-users, not using stock media for your marketing or promotional material. 

At the end of the day, licensing matters to everyone, even your company. By understanding the different types of licenses available, you’re setting your end-users up for success and ensuring a better user experience. That’s a win for them and a win for you (hello, brand loyalty). 

Common License Types

So, what’s the scoop on different license types? Let us break it down for you.

Creative Commons (CC)

Set-up to create easy-to-understand terms; this public copyright license gives end-users the ability to use images, video, or audio for non-commercial or non-monetized purposes. Customers must provide attribution to the creator of the media, and no edits can be made to the asset. Creation purposes and distribution of the stock content is also very limited. 

Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

A “no rights reserved” license, CC0 allows end-users to use creative content with no attribution to the creator. This effectively puts the stock asset into the public domain and can be used and distributed in any way.

Royalty-Free (RF)

A popular license type, RF gives the ability to an individual to pay a flat fee for the asset with no royalties due to the content creator. You can use the content almost anywhere, through most channels (though some RF licenses set limitations). Often, you can provide this feature as an add-on in your platform (e.g., “buy this clip for $1.99).

One thing to remember, if your end-user is an employee of a company, the rights for that asset don’t lie with the company, they belong to the individual who purchased the content. This can get tricky if the employee leaves or if the distribution of the created asset goes beyond the scope of license coverage. 

Extended/Enhanced Use

This license goes beyond standard RF licensing terms by extending the ways end-users can use, distribute, and sell the content. When they buy stock content under Extended/Enhanced Use, they’re getting more rights than any other mass license (the upgrade is a custom license that can get incredibly expensive and complex.) This license gives coverage to the company, not an individual, so customers can feel comfortable about distributing that content through whatever channel they want. 

Why Licensing Matters

The common element among licensing is general risk and liability; it outlines what’s covered to help you or your end-users if any legal issues were to arise. When it comes to your platform, licensing can either improve or destroy your customer’s experience.

With CC or CC0 licensing, end-users are often not covered to distribute images for commercial purposes — like if they download stock content with a model or likeness of a person, CC and CC0 often don’t have the proper releases for it to be used for anything other than editorial purposes. Issues that arise from using CC or CC0 can lead to cease and desist letters, liabilities, and hefty indemnification fees, things that your customers aren’t anticipating. This stress and confusion can lead to distrust of your platform, effectively hurting your relationship with end-users (goodbye, brand loyalty).

Through RF or Extended Licenses, your end-users are better covered; they’re buying the rights to use that image in a full capacity. The downside to providing an RF purchase option in your platform is that it leads to a disjointed customer experience. They’ve already subscribed to your platform but have to stop their workflow to purchase the image, video, or audio clips they want. Extended licensing takes care of this disruption by giving the proper licensing across all stock content from a specific provider (simplified workflow, happier customers.) 

Licensing with Storyblocks

When you partner with Storyblocks, you can let go of licensing worries. We take care of that for you with our Extended License. It ensures that your end-users can create whatever they want and use it in whatever manner they choose. Give your customers the peace of mind to create with ease on your platform and learn more about Storyblocks Enterprise and our API options today.

Learn More

Lynsey Fadul

Marketing specialist by day, homebrewer by night, Lynsey works with the Storyblocks Enterprise team. When she’s not writing or designing collateral, you can find her taking too many pictures of her beloved dogs, Charlie and Henry.


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