Royalty free stock footage is an invaluable tool to use when creating video projects. Even though the footage says it is royalty free, it does not mean it comes without rules to follow. Here is a list of tips you should keep in mind next time you are looking to add stock footage to your next project:

Read the license agreement.

This sounds like a no-brainer, but so many people forget to simply read before they sign up to use a product. Each company will have a unique license agreement, so make sure to read it through each time. For the most part it will be a lot of legal jargin, but if you don’t understand something or think your use of the clip may not follow the agreement, make sure to ask. It never hurts to double check so you don’t end up having to edit or even pull your project off the airwaves later!

Do not sell or share stock footage that you buy.

This rule will probably be clearly stated within the license agreement, but even if it isn’t, it is a good rule to adhere by. While it may seem harmless to share a couple of clips with a video editing buddy, but you are running the risk of breaking a legal agreement and finding yourself in a mess of trouble. When buying the footage, ask what the company’s policy is on sharing the clips. Often times if you are going to share it within an organization or educational institution, they will grant permission for the clips to be used by multiple people. Whatever you do, though, do not try to make a profit by reselling another company’s raw stock footage. It is unethical and not worth the legal trouble it could cause.

Just to be safe and courteous, always attribute the footage when you can.

When you go to the deli there may be one of those cups that says “tips accepted but never expected”. The same general concept goes for some stock footage. Even if the license agreement does not have any rules for attribution, it is always appreciated when a video gives a little shout out to the footage providers. A simple “special thanks to (insert footage company name here)” in the credits or a brief mention in a lower third graphic is always appreciated.

Balance purchased stock footage with your original work.

Stock footage is a great resource, but it is meant to enhance your original work, not replace it. Use a combination of graphics, text, pictures and video to get across a strong visual message. Use stock footage as transitions, flare and accents instead of relying on it for the entire plot of your project. You’ll notice that by incorporating your own footage and ideas that the project will seem a lot more genuine.

Do not overuse one particular clip.

Though there will typically be no legal reason why you cannot use a particular clip 10 times during your next video, your viewer may start to question your judgement and your sanity. We’ve all seen one of those poorly done documentaries where they have run out of things to show so you keep seeing the same clip over and over. To avoid that, try looking around to multiple companies to see if you can find some variety on a common theme. If it is absolutely necessary to reuse a clip, think about how you can make it different by perhaps adding a color filter or varying the speed. Just make sure you make decisions with purpose!

Here’s your chance to put these tips to the test! Click below to download a free stock footage clip!

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