Is your stock media company ripping you off?

Learn how stock media companies hide fees and use legal red tape to take your budget and creative control — and find out how Storyblocks is different.

Here’s a scenario that might sound familiar: Your team is wrapping up a video project, but that one scene is still lingering just a little too long. All it needs is a quick b-roll cutaway, and then you can finally ship it. No problem. Your video editor can just download a clip from your stock media company and never think about it again, right? 

Nope. That really should be how it works, but in reality licensing and pricing negotiations slow the creative process to a halt.

That’s because when you buy stock media, you’re not just downloading a media file. You’re getting the asset and a license. And that license includes a set of rules, terms, and conditions about how, when, and where you can use the asset. That’s where things usually get complicated. Those rules can vary widely from one stock media company to the next — and even across different assets within a stock media company’s library. 

That’s the problem: The fine print can wind up costing you in more ways than one.

Cutting through the stock media company red tape

The traditional way of doing things stifles creativity. Don’t believe us? Let’s try a quick thought exercise. Imagine what your ideal creative process would look like, if you had no restrictions or limitations.

Seriously, we’ll wait. Take just a few seconds to mull over what complete creative control means to you. 

You can play this relaxing video clip while you think it over:

Download this clip from Storyblocks

All set? Cool. Did you imagine a process that includes collaboration among team members, creative experimentation, coordinated production, and a stunning end product? Yup, us too. Complex paperwork, legal red tape, and endless media usage fees didn’t find their way into our fantasy.

What your stock media company doesn’t want you to know about their licensing

Traditional stock media companies force video creators to work with whatever assets are available while navigating multiple restrictive, costly licenses. All just to download a single stock asset. That certainly isn’t anyone’s definition of “creative control.” 

The Storyblocks business license bucks that trend. We designed our license with real creative workflows in mind, to make stock work for you and your team. It’s straightforward and unlimited, and it provides easy access to millions of 100% royalty-free assets. Any of which you can use however and wherever you want.

Let’s do a quick comparison:

You’ll have to go through complex pre-negotiations over cost and usage

Most stock companies make you decide where and how you’ll use each download before you even finish your project. Then, they charge you based on your estimated use cases, channels, and distribution volume. Unless you’re some kind of fortune teller, you’ll basically have to negotiate against yourself based on nothing but gut instinct. That means you’ll often wind up paying for more coverage than you may actually need. 

Worse yet, your team will have to spend valuable time jumping through administrative hoops, instead of doing what they do best — creating videos.

Certain stock media companies might try to lure you in with low prices, but beware of the fine print. They often hide major usage restrictions deep in their creative commons or commercial use licenses.

Did you know virtually all creative commons licenses prohibit using any content for commercial purposes if it features people? Their terms and conditions can go as far as restricting the use of people’s likenesses in any advertising. If you get it wrong and use an unlicensed asset, it can drop your company in legal hot water. Or even a member of your team. That’s a lot of risk to take on — and that risk only increases as your video gets more views.

Using an online video editor that integrates stock media libraries from other providers can further complicate matters. In that case, you’ll also need to get familiar with the terms and conditions set out in their end-user licensing agreement.

Rights-managed stock can make it impossible to predict your costs

A typical legacy stock media company may offer “rights-managed licenses” for exclusive use of their assets over a limited time period. That means restrictions on time, geography, and usage — unlike royalty-free stock. But what if you want to expand your use of a rights-managed asset beyond those restrictions? Well, you’ll need a new license (and more budget) for every new use case. As you can imagine, this is a nightmare for creatives who are just trying to produce their best work.

As if that isn’t bad enough, many providers will charge you more based on a stock media asset’s perceived quality. So, factors like resolution (4K or HD), technology (RED cameras, aerial footage, or 3D), and even the artist’s popularity could all result in up-charges. That means you’ll need to pore over the pricing tiers for each asset before you get your heart set on that perfect shot.

The only reason your team even needs a time-consuming rights-approval process is because traditional stock media companies sell content and licensing one asset at a time. That’s why Storyblocks takes a different approach.

How Storyblocks is different than your stock media company

At Storyblocks, we chose to disrupt the entire industry by reimagining the old stock media company licensing model. See, we’re more than just a stock media company. Storyblocks is a video production platform on a mission to change for the better how creators use and distribute video. Our unlimited subscriptions give everyone, regardless of skill level, all the tools they need for rapid video creation. That, of course, includes our curated library of high-quality stock video). 

Everything about our platform is designed to support your entire video strategy and help you achieve your business goals. And video marketing has driven our own business growth, so we understand the creative process inside and out. That’s why we empower your team to focus on creativity and scaling video production. Not bog you down in legal jargon and nickel-and-dime you on fees like many others.

Generous, industry-leading licensing

The Storyblocks business license provides industry-leading coverage that’s written to your business, instead of an individual member of your team. It includes unlimited distribution, $1 million in indemnification, perpetual coverage, and more.

We call it unlimited, and it really is. That means any content you or your team creates for print or digital using Storyblocks is yours to keep and share anywhere in the world, on any channel. No restrictions, no limit on views, and no extra fees. Simple.

Our indemnification is also significantly more generous than all other stock media providers. Indemnification is basically an insurance policy for commercial use of a licensed stock asset. We provide businesses with $1 million in indemnification, compared to the industry average of around $20,000. Traditional stock media companies charge $150-300 per asset for that level of coverage. Yikes.

We also license our assets to your business, along with legal coverage and usage rights for all of your team’s seat holders. By contrast, legacy providers only license theirs to an individual on your team. This can expose you or your team members to potential legal action. Your creatives can even share Storyblocks downloads with others across the team, department, or your entire company, depending on the number of teams on your plan.

This all might sound a bit too good to be true to your lawyers. After all, we just went over how tricky and complex licensing can be. But it’s the real deal. Just ask someone on your legal or compliance team to have a look at our business license. If they’ve ever reviewed other stock media licenses before, it’ll be obvious to them why Storyblocks is the industry leader.

Find the real cost of your current stock media subscription

If you think the real cost of your stock media plan is the sticker price, think again. How much you pay for your subscription each month or year only tells part of the story. The truth is, hidden costs can quickly add up, consuming both time and money. At Storyblocks, we believe in giving video creators what they need to do their best work as efficiently as possible. A big part of that is not placing any obstacles in your path. Things like complicated licensing and legal red tape or per-asset pricing only add friction. We’re all about reducing friction.

That’s why we created the real cost calculator. It’s a free simple tool that can tell you in minutes whether your stock media company is ripping you off. Answer a few easy questions about the videos you create, where you share them online, and the tools you use. Your results will give a crystal-clear picture of what your current plan is actually costing you.

Nothing puts a damper on creativity quite like having to choose stock media based on rights restrictions. Even worse, slow processes and missed deadlines can derail a video strategy faster than you can say “creative commons license.” Don’t let these things limit your team for one more day.

Storyblocks helps you  reclaim all of the time and productivity rights-approval steals from your team. Now that’s complete creative freedom.

You have the power to take back creative control from administrative hassles, unpredictable creative budgets, and usage permissions with Storyblocks. Get in touch today to find out how our unlimited approach empowers creatives to focus on creating again.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 19, 2023 but has been updated to reflect current information.