Legal Guidelines

Commercial vs Editorial Usage

Commercial Use Content

Commercial content can be used to commercialize, monetize, sell, promote, and advertise a product, business, or service. Use cases include billboards, websites, blogs, brochures, Facebook Ads, and television commercials.

Because commercial content is used for advertising and promotional purposes, content that is licensed for commercial use has many more restrictions than content that is licensed for editorial use.


Requirements for Commercial Content

Commercial content requires:

  • Permission from every recognizable person in the clip or image in the form of a signed and valid model release that allows the photographer, filmmaker or illustrator to license the content commercially.
  • Signed and valid property releases, if applicable, for recognizable private property, artwork, graffiti, and tattoos granting permission from the property owner to commercially license the content.
  • No visible trademarks, company names, or logos present in the content.
  • That the video or image is free of any intellectual property infringements.
  • That the location, object, or event is not restricted.


Editorial Use Content

Editorial content can be used to illustrate newsworthy and current events. It can also be used to illustrate subjects of human interest, including the arts, business, culture, health and fitness, lifestyle, social events, technology, travel, and more. Editorial content can not be used for commercial purposes like to advertise or promote a product or service. News organizations, such as the BBC or The New York Times, will often use stock content in their news feeds to illustrate a story, event, or news development.

We distinguish between two types of editorial content, and guidance for these two types differ slightly:

  1. Editorial content that is newsworthy or of public interest. This kind of content must contain accurate metadata including an Editorial caption.
    • Editorial caption is metadata in your title or description in this format:
      • CITY, COUNTRY (STATE) – YEAR/MONTH/DAY: Factual description of the image content.
      • Example: New York, USA – 2024, Nov 5: Presidential Election, People Holding Ballots.
  2. Staged editorial content that conveys a story, idea, or concept that could be used to illustrate news, current events, or a subject of human interest. This kind of content does not require an editorial caption but should still be marked as Editorial during the submission process.


Further Requirements for Editorial Use Content

Unlike commercial content, editorial content, does not need to have model and property releases and can contain business names and logos. However, many locations and events have specific restrictions and could be rejected without the appropriate press credentials. Editorial content cannot be altered in post-production (cropping, exposure adjustments, and conversion to black and white are acceptable).

How do I submit editorial content?

Editorial content can be used to illustrate newsworthy and current events. It can also be used to illustrate subjects of human interest, including the arts, business, culture, health and fitness, lifestyle, social events, technology, travel, and more. Editorial content can not be used for commercial purposes like to advertise or promote a product or service.

To submit editorial content, follow these steps when preparing a submission for review:

  1. Ensure the title, description, and keywords are accurate.
  2. If your editorial content is newsworthy or of public interest, please add an editorial caption.
  3. An editorial caption is a notation in your title or description that includes:
    • CITY, COUNTRY (STATE) – YEAR/MONTH/DAY: Factual description of the image content (if content was shot before the year 2000, only the year/decade is required).
  4. Select the “Editorial” check mark under the “Usage” section in your Edit Item Detail page
  5. Alternatively, you can choose your editorial items in your Uploads section and mark them for editorial usage using the dropdown menu at the bottom of the Uploads section.


When content designated as “editorial” is approved, it is labeled as “Editorial” on the website and cannot be used to advertise or promote a product or service.

As long as our review team does not deem your content to be rejected from the marketplace outright, we’ll make our best effort to guide you through the upload process by notifying you of errors in your submission and sending the content back to you for revision and resubmission. If you have any questions about the editorial content submission process, please don’t hesitate to contact us at

Legal Rejections & Restrictions

As a Pond5 Artist working with diverse stock media types, it’s important to be familiar with licensing terms and restrictions. We may not accept some submissions due to legal considerations, such as the portrayal of explicit content, violence, or controversial themes, leading to rejection. Additionally, certain categories may have restrictions that could prompt us to return your submissions for further edits or accept the content for Editorial use even though you intend to license it for Commercial use. Below, you’ll find examples that illustrate the aspects we review.



Please note that we cannot accept content that violates the law or infringes on our Contributor License Agreement into our marketplace; therefore such content will be rejected.

  • AI-Generated content – According to the Contributor License Agreement, you must own the rights to all of your content. Repeated submission of AI-generated content will result in account suspension or termination.
  • Objectionable content is offensive or inappropriate subject matter or metadata and is strictly prohibited. Examples of content and metadata that fall into this category are terrorism-themed, child abuse, usage of restricted symbols, animal abuse, etc.
  • Legal compliance – Pond5 Artists must adhere to applicable laws and regulations while producing content. We will not accept into our marketplace any content that might violate anti-counterfeiting laws, copyright laws, GDPR and its equivalents, and others.
  • Restricted architecture – Many well-known buildings simply require a property release for commercial use or a proper editorial caption for an editorial designation. However, certain buildings are legally restricted and cannot be approved. We will review every submission carefully on an individual basis.
  • Restricted trademarks – Trademarks are considered intellectual property, and the owner has the authority to decide whether they allow licensing for stock media. We will carefully assess each submission on an individual basis.
  • Venues with paid admissions – All ticketed events require a property release/permit verifying your permission to film. Content submitted without the permit will result in rejection. Any content produced within a venue (property) that requires visitors to pay admission to access, for example, a stadium, arena, concert hall, opera, movie theater, or museum, requires a release.
  • Audio – we don’t accept music and sound effects added in postproduction. Animations should never contain audio as the sounds cannot be captured in the normal course of filming.

Download the full list of prohibited content here.


Our content review team diligently reviews all media types and thoroughly examines each asset and its associated metadata submitted to our database. Please take note of the following categories that may result in returning your submissions to you for additional edits or accepting them for editorial use only. If our review team returns your media, kindly follow the instructions provided in the accompanying note to ensure successful acceptance of your media upon resubmission.

  • Missing Model Release – Model release is legal consent from the model that allows you to license your content for commercial use. Find more information about model releases here. We will return your items in the following cases:
    • Recognizable people – if we identify a recognizable person, the item will be returned to you with a note to attach a model release to the item.
      • Visible tattoos on any body part also require a release, even if the model is unrecognizable in the clip.
    • We require a properly filled-in model release form for every nude model or model who is part of a sexually suggestive concept, including unrecognizable models.


  • Rights Of Publicity
    • If the clip contains public figures (eg. celebrities, politicians, musicians, religious leaders, etc.), the content is acceptable for EDITORIAL uses.  
    • The content is acceptable for commercial use if it contains public figures who died pre-1930.


  • Missing Property Release – Property release is legal consent from the owner of the property (even intellectual property) that allows you to license your content for commercial use. Find more about property releases here. Make sure you have a properly filled-in and signed release form for media portraying:
    • Private property that isn’t generic, such as identifiable building interiors or recognizable private land.
    • Trademarks such as company logos, brand names, product names, etc.
    • Artwork such as paintings, graffiti, tattoos, photographic prints, etc.
    • Music lyrics, sheet music, or any literary works, such as literature, novels, poems, etc.


  • Archival content – All contributors submitting archival/vintage content must satisfy our vetting process. Please complete this form, and upon approval, we will accept your archival content submissions for review.

  • Inclusive language – our goal is to create and promote a collection of media that stands for diversity and inclusiveness. Please ensure that your metadata (titles, descriptions, and keywords) appropriately and politely depict persons of various colors, ethnicities, disabilities, ages, religions, genders, and sexualities.

  • Audio – Editorial footage that contains music may be acceptable to approve, provided that the music was captured during the course of filming.
    • Ambient and Environmental Sounds: Ambient and environmental sounds within clips can be accepted even for commercial use. For example, a clip of a busy street corner with audio that consists of traffic, police whistles, and indistinguishable voices can be accepted so long as there is no recognizable music or speech.
AI-generated Content on Pond5

Our Contributor Agreement states that you must be the owner of any content you upload to Pond5. AI-generated content is produced using machine learning models that are trained using many other creative assets. As a result, we cannot accept content generated by AI to be uploaded and licensed by contributors in our marketplace because its authorship cannot be attributed to an individual person, nor can we ensure all artists who were involved in the generation of each piece of content are compensated.

Contributor Agreement

You retain the rights to all of your work. For more information check out our Contributor Agreement.

You can remove, edit or change the price for your media on Pond5 at any time. You will simply be using Pond5 as a marketplace through which you license the use of your media to other media producers under our royalty-free License Agreement.