Shutterstock is a leading stock media service, and Shutterstock Video is one of the best stock footage agencies in the world.
Their licensing terms are an industry-standard in stock media for commercial purposes, so knowing the Shutterstock Video license down to a tee is a great way of safely navigating media licensing in general, and downloading videos from Shutterstock in particular.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything there is to know about the Shutterstock video licenses!
Main Considerations for our Shutterstock Video License Analysis
Before we dive nose-first into the Shutterstock license terms for video content, let’s establish a few key points to understand our overview better.
First of all, Shutterstock is a leading stock media agency with worldwide relevance. After almost two decades in business and having launched their stock footage segment sixteen years ago, they are now a referent in the industry.
This is why we feel that understanding Shutterstock licensing is valuable for both using Shutterstock content and having a knowledge of how stock video licenses work as a whole.
Additionally, having a full grasp of just how much you can do with Shutterstock videos helps understand the real value in the offer and the cost-benefit in their pricing. By the way, if you want to know about pricing and other in-depth details, do check out our Shutterstock Video review, it includes all sorts of details, even the latest Flex subscription, and Shutterstock Music.
That said, here are the basics of our video license analysis:
It’s a Royalty-Free License
You may or may not know this, but there are several licensing models for stock media, including video. Shutterstock –and most online video providers– use a Royalty Free license type.
This license implies that you only have to pay for the right to use the video once, and then you get a battery of usage rights, in an unlimited number of audio visual productions, without ever having to pay another dime for that specific clip.
However, you DO have to pay for the license. Royalty-Free does not mean free of charge. The Shutterstock license, unless expressly said in a special offer, is always paid.
We Focus on the Commercial Use License
Shutterstock does have different license types available. For stock footage, there is also the Editorial license. As the name explains, it’s a license for editorial use only.
However, the Standard or Enhanced license for commercial use is by far the most popular choice for most buyers, as most of them purchase stock videos for commercial purposes, and thus we think it’s the one that is more important to know in-depth.
This is About the Individual, One-Seat License
If you visit the Shutterstock website, you’ll notice they have team and enterprise accounts available, which, among other perks, include a multi-seat license: this means more than one person can access the platform to download (which equals to license) videos using one central account. If you run a big business, these options may interest you.
But, Shutterstock’s core popularity is in the individual service. In fact, all the prices and information displayed by default on their site are about the individual license.
Therefore here, we are covering this type of contract.
Note: Every time you purchase and download content from Shutterstock (be it on-demand or with a subscription), a license is issued on the account holder's name. You can verify whose name the licenses for video content will be under, in your account settings on Shutterstock. Additionally, know that the personal account still lets you download content for commercial use.
We are Analysing the Video License Specifically
Shutterstock started out as an image license provider, but now has a dedicated sub section for images, one for video, and one for audio content. Each one of these online media types has its own licensing terms.
Sure, there are common points between the standard image license and the standard video license, but they’re still different contracts, mainly because the former takes into account tangible media uses (such as prints).
Here, we are taking care of the Shutterstock Video License, and the terms we analyze apply to stock video only.
If you want to know more about the Shutterstock license for still images, including what the Standard image license grants, the pricing of licensed images with image packs and subscription, and the do's and don'ts to use images safely, check out this guide to the Shutterstock images license.
Shutterstock Video Pricing According to License Type
Shutterstock stock footage has different price points depending on three factors: video resolution, buying method, and license type. Here's a very quick overview of how much Shutterstock video clips cost depending on which license you choose.
Standard License Video Subscriptions
|Number of Downloads||Price per Month||Price per Month with Annual Plan||With our Shutterstock Coupon Code|
|5||$189||$99||$160.65 / $84.15|
|10||$359||$159||$305.15 / $135.15|
|20||$669||$199||$568.65 / $169.15|
Standard License Video Packs
|Number of downloads||Resolution||Price||With our Shutterstock Coupon Code|
|Number of Videos||Resolution||Price||With our Shutterstock Coupon Code|
Shutterstock Video License Explained
Okay, now that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business. This is what the Shutterstock Video License means:
#1 – Non-Exclusive, Non-Transferrable, Worldwide, Perpetual
The license contract opens with the core rights and obligations you assume. So it’s important to understand them in full.
With a Standard royalty free license, you may:
- Make use, edit or alter, and reproduce stock videos anywhere in the world, for as long as you wish to
- Use the videos in an unlimited number of video productions, without ever paying royalties for said use
- Keep in mind, that other buyers can license and use the same videos as you, in their own video productions
What is critical to know is that:
Plus, there are a few restrictions and limitations, that you will learn about further below.
#2 – Standard License for Video
Getting into the specifics, this is what a Standard Video License allows you to do:
- Use the videos in multi-media video productions for digital reproduction on the web –for online advertising or other creative projects, on social media, YouTube or similar video sharing services, on mobile apps, and other permitted mediums, with audiences of less than 500,000 viewers
- As part of a live performance, with an audience no larger than 500,000 viewers
- Display videos on websites, with unlimited audience size
- Out-of-home advertising (marketing outside of your main project) is allowed up to 500,000 impressions (views, not viewers)
As you can see, this license is very flexible. There is a wide array of mediums you can use the content in. Things like YouTube videos, social media posts, background videos for concerts, videos to use in a blog post or other e publications, to play on all kinds of websites, or for email marketing, etc.
It's worth highlighting here, that there is a core difference between the Shutterstock image license and the video license regarding the Standard license cap.
In the case of stock photos for YouTube or other audio visual productions of similar concepts, Shutterstock issues a production budget limit: you may use the images in creative projects that cost under $10,000 to create.
However for video content, as you just saw, there are no budget limitations set, the cap is issued around the number of viewers. This is much more convenient, in our opinion.
Now, what you cannot do with a Standard license, is given by the same terms:
- You can’t use the videos in multimedia projects with audiences larger than 500,000 viewers
- You can’t either use the clips in live performance events for more than 500,000 attendees
- You can’t use the licensed footage in TV, theatrical film, or online streaming productions
If these limitations clash with your intended use, though, don’t despair. Shutterstock now has an Enhanced Video license option that likely serves you. You will learn about it next.
#3 – Enhanced License for Video
What happens when you need to use a stock footage clip in video content for audiences larger than 500,000 viewers? Or when you want to use the videos in content for TV, cinema, or streaming platforms? In those cases, you need an Enhanced License for video, which grants you:
- Unlimited use in multimedia production via the web, social media, apps
- Unlimited live performance distribution
- Unlimited use in TV, Online Video, Film
- Unlimited use in digital templates
- Unlimited out-of-home advertising impressions
Logically, this kind of license comes at a higher price point. In Shutterstock, all prices displayed by default on the site refer to the Standard license.
To learn more about Shutterstock video prices, both on demand and through subscription, even details of the new Flex subscription for multi-media downloads (that is, to download stock photos, stock videos, and audio tracks all with the same plan) you can read our Shutterstock review.
To save in your purchase of Shutterstock content, don't miss our exclusive Shutterstock coupon codes!
#4 – Prohibitions in Shutterstock Video Licenses
Whether you acquire a Standard or an Enhanced license, the following restrictions always apply and cannot be overcome. It’s crucial to remember these terms, as infringing them can have severe legal consequences.
- Don’t ever use the clips in any way outside those expressly authorized by the license
- Don’t resell, gift or redistribute the videos as they are, in any way
- Don’t use the footage in a way that infringes other’s trademarks or copyright
- Don’t do anything that could mean you are pretending the content is of your own creation
- Don't extract “stills” –like screengrab images– from the footage to use in advertising or anywhere else – this is a restriction specifically aimed at video content, it means you absolutely cannot use still images taken from a Shutterstock video clip to use in anything, be it a digital reproduction or in physical form like wall art posters for example. It's forbidden.
- Sensitive Use Clauses: these are very, very important, and refer to usage that could potentially end in personal or moral conflict:
- Don’t use the content in connection with pornography, or any concept that could be perceived as defamatory, deceptive, or in any way illegal
- Don’t use the videos in a way that could put the actors, the creator, or the agency in a “bad light” or be offensive towards them. Such ways include content related to pornography, escort services, or dating services, promoting consumption of tobacco, alcohol, and other health-affecting substances, endorsing ideas such as political or religious, depicting them as suffering from mental illnesses or severe physical illnesses, and engaging in immoral or criminal activity.
Make sure to always abide by these rules and you’ll be safe.
#5 – Warranties and Representations
While you might have been quick to dismiss this part of the contract in a first read, these terms are actually rather important, and part of the core value in Shutterstock stock footage. You see, the danger in free stock footage from the web or unverified sources is that no one takes legal responsibility for that content. You’re at your own risk.
With the above terms, Shutterstock states that they take legal responsibility for the stock footage they offer and that as long as you use it according to the license terms, you will not be at risk of copyright infringement, nor of infringing any other U.S law.
Important note, though: They take responsibility for the visual content in stock videos, but don’t give any warranties regarding audio in the video. Keep this in mind when selecting your clips!
#6 – Indemnification Fee
In connection with warranties and representation, Shutterstock backs up its content financially, too. This means they provide indemnification coverage should you ever face legal claims for using their clips (every time you are proven to comply with the license terms, of course).
The amount of legal indemnification is tied to the license and media type.
- Stock videos, for both the Standard and Enhanced license, are covered with a $10,000 indemnification fee.
But there is another important piece of information to learn and remember here, and that is that, in the same way Shutterstock commits to indemnify you… you are also agreeing to indemnify Shutterstock if you misuse the content –if you break the license terms– and get into legal trouble for it. Therefore, it's super critical to know and understand the licensing terms!
#7 – Video License Comparison
Shutterstock offers a quick side-by-side comparison of the main usage rights for both Standard and Enhanced licenses, to make it easier for you to determine which one you need.
In essence, it comes down to this:
|Multimedia production for web, social media, mobile apps, and similar||Up to 500,000 viewers||Unlimited viewers|
|Use on websites||Unlimited viewers||Unlimited viewers|
|Out-of-home advertising impressions||Up to 500,000 impressions||Unlimited impressions|
|Live performance distribution||Up to 500,000 viewers||Unlimited viewers|
|TV, Online video, film productions||No||Unlimited viewers|
|Digital web templates||No||Unlimited use|
To wrap up this guide, let's see a list of real-life use cases, and what license you'd need for each of them:
- I want to create a video ad for my social media channels, I expect about 100,000 reproductions – A Standard video license will suffice
- I want to use stock footage in my television series, which has an average audience size of 6 million viewers – For any TV-related use you require an Enhanced license, which covers an unlimited number of viewers
- I want to use Shutterstock videos in an awareness production about drug addiction – This topic falls under the Sensitive Use clause, you likely cannot use Shutterstock content for this regardless of the license type. Do contact Shutterstock directly to verify if they would clear your intended use
- I want to pull a still image from a Shutterstock clip I used in my production, to use in t shirts and DVD cover art to promote and sell my film – You cannot do this with any license at Shutterstock. If you wish to promote your video content with stills, you need to download stock photos for this specific purpose
Do you have any doubts or questions about the Shutterstock Video license that we haven't answered? Drop us a comment, we'll be happy to help!