Stock Licenses

What is an Extended License for Stock Photos And What It Costs?

When you’re looking for high-quality stock photos, it’s important to understand the different license types available.

An extended license gives you permission to use a photo in ways that go beyond the standard licensing terms.

This can be a great option if you need photos for large marketing or advertising campaigns, or if you want to use them in a product you’re selling.

However, an extended license can be expensive, so it’s important to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting before you purchase one.

In this post, I’ll break down what an extended license for stock photos is and where you’ll find the best prices to help you decide whether or not it’s a good option for your project.

Related Posts:

What is an Extended License?

An extended license is an additional agreement to the standard royalty-free (RF) license that allows you to use stock photos in ways that would normally be prohibited by the standard license.

Once you’ve purchased an extended license, you can use the media in question for pretty much anything – such as for the resale of posters and other merchandise.

However, it’s important to note that you can only purchase an extended license for media that are already available under a regular royalty-free license because an extended license only “extends” the standard license.

The most common reason people need to purchase an extended license is for print runs or views exceeding 500,000.

A standard RF license typically limits you to 500,000 printed copies. If you need to print more than that, then you’ll need to buy an extended license.

Other common reasons people need extended licenses include:

  • Using photos in product packaging or templates
  • Using photos on merchandise intended for resale (wall art, t-shirts, mugs, etc.)
  • Displaying photos for example on billboards, trade fairs, etc.

If you need to use a stock photo in any way that’s not explicitly allowed by the standard RF license, then you’ll need to purchase an extended license.

Standard Stock Photo License vs. Extended License

So, what are the differences between a standard and an extended license?

A standard royalty-free license is included with most stock photos, and it should suffice for most projects.

With a standard RF license, you’re allowed unlimited web views (social media and websites), and you can use the photo in email marketing, mobile advertising, social media, or a broadcast program with an estimated under 500 000 views.

You’re also allowed to modify the photo as needed. The biggest limitations of a standard license is that it only allows up to 500,000 copies or views and that you can’t implement it in products for reselling or use it on merchandise.

So if your project is going to be particularly popular or if it’s going to be seen by millions of people, you’ll need to purchase an extended license.

An extended license gives you all of the rights of a standard license, plus a few extra.

With an extended license, you’re allowed more than 500,000 copies or views.

You can also use the photo in merchandise, templates, or other products for resale.

So if you’re planning on using the image in a product that you’re going to sell (like wall art or t-shirt), you’ll need an extended license.

In short, in most cases, a standard license will suffice. But if you’re planning on using the photo in a product that will be seen by millions of people or if you’re planning on selling products with the photo on them, you’ll need to purchase an extended license.

How Do You Know When You Need to Purchase an Extended License?

The best way to know if a stock photo requires an extended license is to read the terms of use for the stock photo site you’re using.

The thumb of rule is that if you estimate that the view or copy count for your project will exceed 500,000 in product packaging, printed marketing materials, digital documents, software, email marketing, mobile advertising, or broadcast or digital programs, you will need to purchase an extended license.

This usually only concerns big companies or businesses with big projects and large advertising budgets. For the rest of us, the regular RF license should suffice.

Secondly, if you’re looking to create merchandise or products for resale or distribution where the main value of the product is associated with the media itself (think prints on t-shirts or posters), then you’ll need an extended license.

This may concern you if you’re planning to sell even one poster or t-shirt with a stock photo on it. So if you’re looking to create merchandise for resale, make sure to purchase an extended license.

If you still are not sure which license is right for you, the best course of action is to contact the stock photo site or the photographer directly and ask.

They’ll be able to guide you in the right direction and make sure you have the appropriate license for your needs.

How Much Does an Extended License Cost?

The price of an extended license can differ based on the stock photo site you’re using.

Extended licenses are typically priced between $23 and $147 per image depending on the source.

Here I’ve investigated the prices of the six most popular stock photo sites and how they compare to each other.

Adobe Stock Extended License – Flexible and Reasonably Priced Option

Adobe Stock offers one of the best prices on the market for extended licenses, with a single file download costing only €64.

With no image packs or credit packs needed, this is a very flexible option for anyone looking to purchase only one image.

Adobe Stock Extended Licence
Images Price/Image
1 €64

Adobe Stock Extended License

Shutterstock Extended License – Best for Volume buyers

When it comes to purchasing images for extended use, Shutterstock offers a variety of image packs to choose from.

Whether you need two images or twenty-five, they have a pack that will fit your needs. The cost varies depending on the number of images in the pack, with the two-image pack being the most affordable at €199.

A five-image pack is a middle-of-the-road option, costing €449.

For those who need many images, the twenty-five-image pack is the best value at €1699 giving you the best price/image ratio.

The price/image varies between €68 – €100.

Please check the below table for detailed extended license prices on Shutterstock

Shutterstock Extended Licence Packs
Images Price Price/Image
2 €199 €100
5 €449 €90
25 €1,699 €68

Shutterstock Extended LicenseShutterstock Standard License

IStock Extended License – Expensive Without Benefits Compared to Others

If you’re looking to purchase an extended license on IStock, you’ll need to purchase credits first.

The price of an extended license varies depending on which collection you’re looking at.

For the essential collection, it’ll cost you 19 credits, which translates to €133 per image.

For the signature collection, it’ll cost you 21 credits, which translates to €147 per image.

I hear you thinking what is the difference between essential and signature collections?

In short, the signature collection includes royalty-free images that are exclusive to IStock and cannot be found anywhere else, thus being more expensive. The essential collection is a mix of images that you can find on other stock sites as well.

You can see a more detailed breakdown of the prices in the table below.

IStock Extended Licence
License Essential Collection Signature Collection
Credits Standard 1 3
Credits Extended 18 18
Total Credits Cost 19 21
Price/License €133 €147

IStock Extended License

Dreamstime Extended License – Cheapest Of Them All

Dreamstime offers the lowest prices for extended licenses, however, you need to purchase an image pack.

You can get a 2-image pack, 5-image pack, 25-image pack, 100-image pack, or 500-image pack.

The below table provides a detailed breakdown of the prices.

Dreamstime Extended Licence Packs
Images Price Price/Image
2 €60 €30
5 €139 €28
25 €667 €27
100 €2,531 €25
500 €11,641 €23

Dreamstime Extended License

Depositphotos Extended License – Flexible But Pricy

Depositphotos has the most flexible pricing among stock photo websites.

You can get a single file or image packs. The available packs are 5-image-pack costing €359 and 25-image-pack costing €1599. A single extended license download costs €89.

If you need more than one image, buying a pack will save you money. However, if you only need one image, the single file option is more affordable.

The table below shows the prices for each option in detail.

Depositphotos Extended Licence Packs
Images Price Price/Image
1 €89 €89
5 €359 €72
25 €1,599 €64

Depositphotos Extended License

123RF Extended License – Different But Expensive

123RF offers a bit different pricing structure for extended licenses, allowing you to choose from three different image usage types: print-only, electronic-only, or comprehensive usage.

The print-only license is restricted to 10,000 copies total for any printed material (not digital), while the electronic-only license permits an unlimited number of digital runs.

The comprehensive license encompasses all uses allowed in the Terms and Conditions, Print Only Extended License, and Electronic Only Extended License without any restriction on prints.

A detailed table of prices is provided below.

123RF Extended Licence
Image Use Price Price/Image
Print €59 €59
Electronic €88 €88
Comprehensive €115 €115

123RF Extended License

Side-By-Side Price Comparison Of Extended Stock Photo Licenses

To make it easier to compare prices, I’ve put together a side-by-side price comparison of all the extended licenses from the above stock photo websites.

Dreamstime offers the best prices for extended licenses, but you must buy a minimum of 2 images.

On the other hand, Adobe Stock is best if you need to get only one high-quality image with an extended license. Also, with over 290 million images, Adobe’s library is way bigger than Dreamstime’s 200 million images.

Additionally, because Adobe Stock pays artists better royalties than any other microstock agency, the best artists are also represented there.

Below is a table with all extended license prices compared.

Comparison of Extended License Prices
Stock Photo Site Price / Image Note
Adobe Stock €64 Only sold as single files
Shutterstock €68 – €100 Price depends on image pack purchased
IStock €133 – €147 Price depends on credits pack and the collection
Dreamstime €23 – €30 Price depends on image pack purchased
Depositphotos €64 – €89 Sold as single file and in image packs
123RF €59 – €115 Price depends on how the image is going to be used

Are There Any Restrictions With Extended Licenses?

If you’re thinking of using an image with an extended license, it’s important to be aware of the restrictions that come along with it.

In this section, I’ll outline some of the most common restrictions associated with extended licenses so that you can make sure you’re using the image in accordance with the terms of the license.

  • You can’t use the image on a website that promotes illegal activity.
  • You can’t use the image in a way that could be considered defamatory, offensive, or pornographic.
  • You can’t resell or redistribute the image on its own or as part of a larger work.
  • You can’t use the image in a logo, trademark, or service mark.
  • You can’t claim ownership of the image.
  • Some licenses have additional terms and conditions that you need to adhere to – be sure to read through them carefully before using the image.
  • Extended licenses are usually more expensive than standard licenses, so keep that in mind when budgeting for your project.

Extended licenses give you a lot of leeway in how you can use an image, but there are still some important restrictions to be aware of before using one.

By taking the time to understand what those restrictions are, you can ensure that you’re using the image in accordance with the license and avoid any legal issues down the road.


As you can see, there are a few things to consider when deciding if an extended license is right for you.

If you’re planning on using the image in a product that will be seen by millions of people or if you’re planning on selling products with the photo on them, it’s definitely worth your time to purchase an extended license.

Keep in mind that not all stock photo agencies offer similar extended licenses, so do your research before making a purchase.

Also, the prices vary quite a bit, with some agencies offering extended licenses for as low as €23 per image while others charge over $100 per image.

In general, I would recommend going with a reputable agency like Adobe Stock or Dreamstime – both of which offer extended licenses at reasonable prices.

I hope this article has helped you to understand extended licenses for stock photos and how they can benefit you.

Thanks for reading!

Related posts: