Another Word About Stock Art

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March 3, 2015 by Mod

notreally a book cover copyA really fun and original promotion campaign for an upcoming film has inspired this post. iStock Photo and 20th Century Fox have teamed up to create some buzz for Vince Vaughn’s new film Unfinished Business with a hilarious series of celebrity photo-bombs in classic stock photographs. (see what “editorial” fun I had with one – left)

The best (and cleverest) part about it is that they have made the images free to download. What better way to get the word out about their film? Now before you get all excited about having Vince Vaughn on your book cover, please note that they have made these images “editorial use only”. Well what does that mean? And how does it relate to indie authors looking for images for their business?

The simplest way to explain it is to cite the rules directly from iStock:

“Files for Editorial Use Only cannot be used for any commercial purposes. These files may contain identifiable brands, locations or people without the proper legal releases needed for commercial use.

They may be used in blogs, magazine and newspaper editorial applications, or other non-commercial uses.

Editorial-Use-Only files cannot be used for:

Any commercial use
Any advertorial use (sections or supplements featuring brand or product names, or sections or supplements for which you receive a fee from a third party advisor or sponsor)”

The most common “editorial use” images I tend to come across are those depicting people on the street – street scenes, especially images of traditional events such as Mardi Gras, Native American Pow Wows or Chinese New Year Parades. What this means is that the photographer has NOT gotten a model release from the people in the image. You don’t need permission to take a photo of someone in the street. You can even sell that photo. But you can’t then on-sell it in a way that would accrue royalties. The person in the photo would be entitled to royalties because they haven’t signed a release.

There are other reasons image might be editorial only. Let’s say it’s a picture of a race car with the sponsor’s logo all over it. Or it’s a recognizable celebrity. Images of celebrities can only be used in editorial ways, unless you get their permission (no doubt at great expense to yourself) to use their image in a commercial way.

So, be warned. Even some images that appear in stock sites are not suitable for book covers, teasers or any other COMMERCIAL use in your book business.

You CAN, however, use an image of celebrity in a “dream cast”  but only if you have permission from the photographer, OR if you paid for “editorial use” from a reputable stock site.


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