Understanding royalty-free images and video clips

When you download a stock photo, illustration or video clip from royalty-free sites like iStock, you aren't buying the file itself — you're buying a royalty-free license that lets you use that file in a wide variety of projects and products. Not sure what that means? We're here to help.

What kinds of royalty-free files are available on iStock?


Royalty-free licenses are the best option for anyone who needs to use stock images commercially, which is why every file on iStock is only available royalty-free. Ready to check out our amazing collection of royalty-free photos, illustrations and video clips?


Add an extended royalty-free license to do even more

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Adding an extended royalty-free license to the standard license lets you use our content in even more ways, including:
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  • 500,000+ printed copies
  • Physical products for resale
  • Sharing files with team
  • Digital templates for resale
For more details on extended licenses, check out our license comparison page or view our license agreement.

Prohibited uses of royalty-free photos, illustrations or video clips

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Regardless of what license you buy, you can you can never use iStock content for:
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  • Use in any logo or trademark
  • Pornographic, obscene or libelous works, or anything else unlawful
  • Stockpiling subscription downloads (subscription royalty-free licenses are only valid if you use the file in a project within 30 days of your subscription ending)
For the complete list of prohibitions, refer to the content license agreement.

Still have questions?

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