31st March 2023

It can be quite tricky understanding the difference between Commercial and Editorial use. Taking a moment to consider and understand the main differences setting the two apart is recommended in order to best determine how to license your content and avoid any legal minefields you may potentially find yourself in. 

Generally speaking, the main difference comes down to how footage will be used. Footage for Commercial purposes is used for advertising, promoting and selling a service or product, whilst Editorial informs, educates and documents.  
Footage for Commercial use can appear on billboards, websites, a vlog/digital media, Facebook Ads, or within a television commercial. This generally requires more permissions to be sought such as location or property agreements and model or contributor release forms. It’s best to try avoid logos and branding wherever possible when using footage for these purposes.  

Footage for Editorial use on the other hand, documents and illustrates events or news, tells a story and educates and informs. This can cover a wide variety of themes such as culture, arts, nature, health and wellness or technology.  Unlike Commercial use, you can include logos and brand names (which are copyright or trademark protected), include recognizable people and private property without any release forms or agreements. Due to the very nature of editorial, footage must accurately reflect people, locations and events. When going through the editing process, be mindful and take care ensuring the footage does not become so heavily edited as to mislead or misconstrue events. Footage for Editorial use must accurately and honestly describe the scene, event or people within, you can still adjust grading and colour elements if desired. 

Footage for Editorial use can be further broken down in to two types, documentary editorial and illustrative editorial. Documentary editorial depicts events or news stories whilst illustrative editorial conveys a concept or story. Both have their own unique requirements which need to be considered, so it’s recommended to check these to ensure you are meeting all necessary requirements. 

If you’d like to find out more, or need help locating footage, you can contact us here and one of our team will be in touch.  

Originally published: 11/03/2022