Licensing 101: Why A Reputable Stock Provider is Essential

It’s a fact – babies in marketing and advertisements will consistently have high engagement from an audience. They drive an emotional response that consumers can’t deny. It’s no wonder that many content creators go looking for stock images and videos of babies.

But would you use a baby in your campaign without having permission from the baby’s parents? Of course not. However, if you’re sourcing stock media from non-reputable providers, you may unknowingly already have. Here’s the reason – licensing. Different licenses from different providers can cast a lot of confusion on the legality of using a specific clip or image. Let’s break down why.

toddler smiles

Imagine this.

Your creative team is tasked with pulling together a campaign that tugs at the audience’s heartstrings. Each of your specialists gets a chance to develop a pitch with their own take on the campaign. Naturally, they gravitate towards using a baby to tell the story. They search for images from different stock providers, looking for the perfect baby to complete their creative vision. After each pitch is presented, you dig deeper into the licensing for each image.

Specialist A chooses an image of a baby from a free stock provider. But after looking at the licensing language, you realize there’s no model release associated with the image, and the terms don’t guarantee protection if legal action were to be brought against your company. 

Specialist B decides to go with a baby image from a paid stock provider. After you read the license, you learn that once you pay for the image, the license, including the model release, is written to your company, allowing your organization to use it however they want, forever. 

With more research, you learn that a model release is the agreement or waiver of liability that the model has given, granting permission for their likeness to be used in content creation. You realize that if you are using a child in your campaign, your image must have proper licensing, so no legal issues arise. To do the smart thing for your business, you have to go with Specialist B’s campaign utilizing a paid stock provider.

Stock Provider - looking for stock media

Choosing a reputable stock provider matters

While it might be a secondary thought, licensing is a primary concern. It can significantly impact your marketing distribution and the creation of ad content when utilizing stock media. Without understanding what’s at stake, significant legal ramifications can be raised towards your business. Finding a reputable, reliable stock provider with a license to cover your business is an integral part of the creative campaign process.

There are two types of providers you can go with: free or paid.

Free stock providers 

Free stock providers typically offer content covered under a Creative Commons license. This license allows creators to put their work in the public space, giving people the ability to use these assets purportedly without copyright infringement. However, if any legal issues were to arise, there’s no protection for your business because Creative Commons gives no warranties with their licensing. Plus, the asset itself could be incorrectly licensed. It’s not uncommon for people to license other’s work as their own, effectively nulling license coverage. Sites like Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay don’t offer licensing that adequately covers your business if you choose to monetize or commercialize your content across multiple channels. 

To really go in-depth, here’s what Unsplash’s license says regarding use of their content:

“One of the best features of the Service permits you to search, view, and download photographs that have been uploaded by Unsplash users (“Photos”). You may download and use Photos from the Service in accordance with, and subject to, the Unsplash License. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Unsplash License, as well as the accompanying FAQs. To be sure you don’t miss it, here’s the crux of the license:

Unsplash grants you an irrevocable, nonexclusive, worldwide copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Unsplash for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Unsplash, but this license does not include the right to compile photos from Unsplash to replicate a similar or competing service. This means that Photos on the Service come with a very, very broad copyright license under the Unsplash License. This is why we say that they are “Free to Use.”

Note that the Unsplash License does not include the right to use:

A. Trademarks, logos, or brands that appear in Photos

B. People’s images if they are recognizable in the Photos

This is just one example of what licensing looks like for free stock providers. But unless you suddenly become a licensing expert or have a legal team looking through each stock media purchase, these are nuances you’re not prepared to look for. Remember Specialist A and her free stock baby? Since the baby’s parents never signed a model release, you could be facing hundreds or thousands of dollars in legal costs for using her image without consent, if this image appears in your campaign.

Paid stock providers 

Paid stock provider’s business models ensure that when you choose to buy and use their stock, your business is thoroughly covered to commercialize and monetize your content across any channel you want. From model releases to monetization of assets, you’ll never have to worry about choosing the wrong images because your business is paying for the rights. Plus, on the off chance that issues were to arise, the stock provider will indemnify your company. It makes your workflow smoother, allowing you to focus on creating, not legalities.

Long story short?

When you’re looking for the right baby picture or stock media in general, a reputable stock media provider can mean the difference between a legal faux-pas and a memorable campaign. So take an in-depth look into your licensing, and make sure you’re downloading correctly licensed stock content.

How Storyblocks can help

Choosing Storyblocks for Business means that your team will never have to worry about whether assets are correctly licensed. And your team gets access to unlimited stock video, audio, and images libraries backed by the best license in the industry. Should anything ever arise, you can rest easy knowing that Storyblocks for Business covers your business with up to $1 million of indemnification. So take the guesswork out of choosing which baby is the best, and contact our team today.

Learn More About Storyblocks for Business