The language of licensing

If you’re new to licensing stock footage, you’ll need to speak its language. What’s the difference between a license and a release? Royalty-free and rights-managed? Commercial and editorial? Get your head around the lingo with this primer.

License

You don’t purchase a clip, you license the right to use it in your project in the way described by the clip’s license. Licenses are either royalty-free or rights-managed.

Royalty-free

Royalty-free (RF) clips may be used in an unlimited number of projects and mediums, for an unlimited duration, worldwide. An RF license is convenient, versatile, and pretty open-ended.

Rights-managed

Rights-managed (RM) clips are available for license on a per-project basis. They are typically more distinct in content and style. The license is defined by a combination of medium (such as advertising or film), usage (such as theatrical or online advertising), scale (region or audience), and duration. With an RM license, you can license only for the uses you require and you can license clips exclusively for your project.

Extended license

An extended license grants you additional rights for your usage of an RF clip. For example, if you wish to use the clip in a product that will be sold (such as footage of a golf course in an instructional golf video), you must obtain an extended license. An extended license also allows an unlimited number of users at an organization to work with the clip. See the table below for more details.

Release status

Whether it’s royalty-free or rights-managed, every clip also has a release status. This status defines how that clip may be used, based on permissions granted by the people in it, or by owners of properties shown. The two kinds of releases are commercial and editorial.

Commercial

Clips released for commercial uses have all necessary model and property releases. They may be used in virtually any commercial or editorial context, including commercials, documentaries, films, corporate videos, websites, video games, and software applications.

Editorial

Clips available for editorial use only do not have model and/or property releases. These clips may be used in editorial contexts only, such as documentaries, non-fiction shorts, videojournalism (news), and other non-promotional contexts.

A clip could be editorial-only for a few reasons: The people in it are recognizable (famous or not), and have not signed model releases. The location the footage was shot at requires a property release, but it was not obtained. Trademarks, logos, or copyrighted works of art are identifiable.

What can you do with a clip?

 

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For more information on how licensing at Dissolve works, read Licensing 101.