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Unreleased Copyrighted Material in Editorial

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Posted Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:44AM
Unreleased Copyrighted Material in Editorial

‘Product’ shots of copyrighted works cannot be accepted as editorial content on iStockphoto.

However, copyrighted works that are in context are OK.

A close up of a magazine cover is not acceptable.


A stack of magazines on the shelf of a news stand is acceptable.


We can only include third party copyrighted works in an image (even editorial photos) if the use falls within a "fair use" exception to copyright law. The key here is that the use should be in context and incidental.

For that reason, product shots of copyrighted works, will not be accepted. To license those images opens our customers, iStock and you up to claims from the copyright owners.

What are copyrighted works? Paintings, statutes, photos, illustrations, book covers, CD covers, magazines – you get the idea. Where the work is in the public domain (ie. the copyright has expired) there is no copyright issue, therefore the same rules do not apply.

This is not a rule that iStock is making up - it applies to all licenses of editorial content, including Getty Images and its Edstock collection. Another way to think about it is to consider one of your images being shot by someone else. They upload the picture of your image as editorial use and collect royalties. Feels wrong, doesn’t it? Because it is.

As for specific percentages as to how much something can be the focus of an image – there is no magic formula. What we can tell you is that we want to accept your content. If we don’t accept it for these reasons, it is because it is risky – risky to you, us and the customer.

Copyrighted work needs to be in context and incidental to the shot – not the focus of the shot.

Examples of acceptable files





Examples of files which are not acceptable





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