Do I Need an Extended License

Imagery sold at, and most other microstock agencies as well, is primarily intended for your to use in a promotional, commercial fashion.  We, as contributors, are providing content to help you build and promote your business, or by extension, your client’s business.  I’ll list some examples below.

The license agreement, spells out pretty clearly what you can and can not do with content, but sometimes the legalese gets a little confusing.  Let’s see if we can clear that up.

The Regular License

We hereby grant to you a perpetual, non-exclusive, non-transferable worldwide license to use the Content for the Permitted Uses (as defined below).

Remember, is a “Royalty Free” site, which means that once you purchase content, you are free to use it forever, as you like, within the permitted uses.  What kind of uses?  Most importantly …

You may only use the Content for those advertising, promotional and other specified purposes which are Permitted Uses (as defined below).

Earlier, I mentioned commercial, promotional use.  What kinds of things does that mean?

These are all uses that help promote a business in some way, or help your client promote their business.  These are pretty straightforward.  But there are lots of other allowed uses.

So, there are a ton of things you can do with a regular license.

Also, note, you are free to modify the content to your needs.  Cut it up.  Resize it smaller.  Tint it pink.  Photoshop in a sticker element.  Put your text on top.  You don’t need to keep the content pristine in your presentation.

However, there are restrictions, and you can see some of these as things, compared to maybe some more expensive sites, that you are trading off for the lower cost of the image.  Some restrictions are just good legal protection, and some are just common sense.

What, according to section 4(a) of the license, can’t you do ?

  • You cannot use the content in any kind of template, that you would resell over and over again, to other buyers, like a web design template, or business card template.
  • You cannot use the content in items for resale, like posters, mugs, tshirts, etc.
  • The use of the content may not depict the model in a defamatory manner, or in a sensitive context.  You may also not use the model in a way that implies endorsement, ie. “Mary loves using Crest!’
  • You may not sub-license, re-sell, rent, lend, assign, gift or otherwise transfer or distribute the content.  This does not apply to a finished website design, for example, that you would transfer to a client.  But it does mean you cannot give them the original files.
  • The content may only reside on one “seat” at a time.  The content must reside with one person, or only be accessible to that one person, the buyer, at a time.
  • The content usage may not be printed more than 500,000 times.  This does not apply to advertising uses, like an ad in Parade magazine, but it does apply to editorial uses, like an article in the NY Times.

That’s the basic idea of the restrictions.  The license itself goes into far more detail.

So, what if your use flies in the face of one or more of these restrictions? 🙂  The answer is … the extended license.

The Extended License

Maybe you do want to purchase content to put on a poster you want to sell on eBay.  Or you need to distribute the content to your entire company to use.  That’s what the extended license is for.

Under the credit cost details, is a radio button, offering you the regular license, or the extended license.  Clicking on the latter opens up your options for extended licensing, and the associated cost.

  • Multi-Seat:  As I mentioned above, the content is only allowed to live at one “seat” or be accessible by one seat at a time, that of the purchaser.  The term “seat” is a traditional software term, as in you buy one “seat” of Photoshop.  If you want to make the content accesible to a multitude of designers, like by putting it on a server, you need to purchase a multi-seat EL. You may physically transfer the Content and its archives from one location to another, in which case you may use the Content at the new location instead. If you require the Content to be in more than one location or accessible by more than one person, you must download the Content from the Site for each such use or obtain an Extended License for a multi-seat license for the Content.
  • Unlimited Reproduction / Print Runs:  If you need to print or otherwise use the content more that 500,000 times (like a large newspaper run), you need this EL.  This restriction does not apply to advertisements in magazines, newspapers or websites or to broadcast by television, web-cast or theatrical production.
  • Items for Resale: If you want to use the content on things that you intend to sell, where the content is the primary focus, you need this EL.  This does not apply to books, for example, where the content is secondary to the text.  However, if you printed a book entitled “The Best of iStock” where the only content was the imagery, you would need an EL.
    • up to 100,000 cards, stationery items, stickers, or paper products,
    • up to 10,000 posters, calendars, mugs, or mousepads,
    • or up to 2,000 t-shirts, apparel items, games, toys, entertainment goods, or framed artwork.
  • Electronic Items for Resale:  This EL covers your right to resell the Content in an unlimited number of electronic templates for e-greeting or similar cards, electronic templates for web or applications development, PowerPoint or Keynote templates, screensavers, and email or brochure templates.  This does not apply to the use of content as part of an electronic application interface, like buttons or header graphics on an iPhone application, or other program.  Something like an online jigsaw puzzle might require the use of an EL, because the content is the main focus of the application.  See this post for more discussion.


If you like to read legal, and who doesn’t, all of this is presented in more detail in the license agreement.  Actually, it isn’t really that bad of a read.  From questions I’ve seen from buyers in the forum, there is some confusion out there as to how you can use content.  Hopefully, you’ve seen here, the usage terms are very flexible.

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