eLearning Courses for resale need photo license

Jul 06, 2012


I know there are several conversation threads on the topic of photos but I hope this is a lttle different.  The courses that I am making are soon going to be made available for resale.  We have used iStockPhoto.com for many of our pictures.  I've now found out that I need to extend the license on each one of my photos from iStock if I want to resell them.  The license is 125 credits per picture!!  With the volume of pictues I've used we're looking at 10's of thousands of dollars to relicense these photos.  Does anyone know of a photo site or sites with a lower cost resale license?  Or is this is standard?  If you are producing courses for resale where do you get your pictures?  Thanks!

9 Replies
Todd Thornton


Check out the true subscription sites like Shutterstock. Their TOS tend to be slightly less restrictive and give you # of times the image can be used. These sites are typically in the $200-$300 a month range. All these sites use non-commercial language so you'll have to figure out what applies to your situation. I've always felt like you could read these types of conditions a couple of different ways.

If you find a particular artist or two you really like, you might consider contacting them directly. I've done that before (when I wanted to be on the safe side) and just purchased an extended license directly. Realize they don't get much of the fee for the extended license from the micro sites. (They get anywhere from 1/10th to probably half at the very most) They also don't sell very many extended licensees. (Nobody is really checking and unless an obvious violation comes up most would never know because their images are sold on multiple sites)

Point being the person who took the photograph can typically enter into whatever kind of individual agreement they want with you. People sort of assume you have to go through the photo websites to buy an extended license, but in most cases, their rights to sell are not exclusive and the creator maintains their own control.

Also,  if you hunt around there's even a big difference between the cost of extended licensees on certain micro sites. BigStockPhoto would probably be around $100, Fotolia might even be around $75.

Finally if you visit video production style graphics sites they tend to not have "resell" restrictions on collections because almost all finished video products are being resold/reused/produced for broadcast, etc. Photo collections exist, but even if you buy sample video clips, then you can export each frame as an individual image. (assuming that wasn't violating use restrictions)


Nancy Woinoski

I think the definition of resale is a little ambiguous on the iStock site - my interpretation is that you only need the extended license if you are:

a) selling products in which the image/images are the primary focus - i.e., a calendar, a tee-shirt or a template

b) selling a product in which you are making the source images available for reuse.

c) selling in volumes that exceed those specified in the standard agreement.

The elearning courses seem like a grey area to me so, as Bruce suggested, you should contact iStock customer service and give them details of your specific projects because I have a feeling you might not need the extended license.

Matt Coates

Thanks everyone for the information and feedback.  I was finally able to get a hold of someone at iStockPhotos and he said that as long at the pictures are not being downloaded onto the customer's computer, but rather are viewed at the company URL, the standard license applies.   So I'm good to go.  Thanks again everyone!!

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