Can I Use This Image?


Have you ever been on a stock image site and found the perfect image, only to see, for “Editorial Use Only?” We have many times, and it often comes with a massive side of annoyance. We usually just move on, assuming that the image is off-limits. Recently though, we decided to look into what “Editorial Use Only” really means.

According to, ‘An image labeled as “Editorial Use Only” is an image that cannot be used to advertise or promote a product or service. The people, objects, or places in editorial images are not released. An editorial-only image is limited to non-commercial uses. Proper use of an editorial image includes using it to illustrate news, commentary, or opinion in newspaper or magazine articles, blog or website posts, or in non-commercial multimedia presentations (such as film).’

This description is still a little vague, so here are some more details on how these images can be used.


Images with this type of license cannot be changed. You cannot Photoshop or alter them in any way. They must be presented as they initially appear. The top image of Charlotte, North Carolina, is for editorial use only and must be displayed in its original form. You can’t crop and/or change the color like the picture below it.


According to, for editorial use images, must ‘have a proper editorial caption including location, date, and a factual description of the event, preferably in this format: CITY, COUNTRY – DATE: Description of scene. The integrity behind these photos is important; they must be accurately described with direct references to subjects and places in the photo rather than vague captions.’

You can not legally caption the first North Carolina image with something like “Best city ever!” or “Home of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.”


Our biggest question was, can I use an image with an ‘Editorial Use Only’ license on my blog or website if the page or blog it resided on was not directly selling anything? For example, let’s say we write a blog post about email marketing that is meant to inform the reader. The blog post itself doesn’t have a product for sale, but it includes a button at the end of the article asking you to contact us if you wanted help with email marketing. We believe that you should not use an editorial image in this case because while we are informing you about email marketing, we also sell that service. If you own a blog that talks about your opinion of dogs vs. cats and are not selling anything, an editorial photo license should be acceptable.

We hope that our use of an ‘Editorial Use Only’ image in this blog post is okay because we do not sell images. If not, you might see another blog post detailing why you should never use them! 😂

Here is the obligatory disclaimer, we are not copyright experts or lawyers, so do not assume you can use any images based on this email. That being said, we are always here to help direct you to the appropriate sources if you have any questions.


The incredible thing about the internet is that we can work anywhere! Woodchuck Arts is geo-located in Newark, Ohio. Email Heather at or call 724-281-0559

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