Licensing Media for Political Campaign Videos


On Tuesday, November 5, 2024, the 2024 United States presidential election will take place, and voters will elect a president and vice president for a term of four years. Many anticipate the most expensive election ever, with the most spending on television ads. We’re here to help answer your questions about how video licensing for political campaign advertising works.


Finding the right content for Campaign 2024

Suppose you’ve been tasked with creating a political ad. In this case, you’re going to want to discuss various campaign issues important to your candidate or cause and use video to help drive your message home.

Ideally, you’d have the time and budget to film all the scenes yourself, but you don’t, so you’re here. Pond5 has the largest stock video library in the world, so we’re sure you’ll find the exact content you need.

We’ve built a resource page specifically for political content to give you a head start. You can find stock videos hand-picked by our curators for some of this year’s top campaign issues, including the energy industry, the military, finances and taxes, education, healthcare, the American workforce, and more. If you need more, you can use our intuitive search engine to look for whatever you need.

Every campaign season we see an interesting phenomenon. As campaign ads become more sophisticated, producers use more and more techniques typically seen by our Hollywood clients. That includes sound, from inspirational music to the creative use of sound effects. To help you achieve this higher production quality, our curators have also compiled some of our best music and sound effects for use in post-production to stir emotions and set the mood of your 2024 campaign ads.


A guide to licensing for political campaigns

Anytime someone creates original content, whether it’s a famous cinematographer with a state-of-the-art camera or you recording something on your smartphone, that person owns the copyright to that work. With a few exceptions, anyone who wishes to use this content must obtain a license from the copyright owner.

What does that mean for licensing footage from Pond5 for your political ads? If you’re new to video licensing, see our Guide to Royalty-Free Licensing to learn the basics. But even if you’re familiar with how licensing works, you should be aware of a few considerations specific to political ads.


Sensitive use requires a Premium license

When you pay a fee to license a video, most companies, including us, provide indemnification–meaning protection from financial harm–should you run into legal issues from your use of the video. Legal problems are uncommon, but they do happen occasionally.

In the rare case you face a legal complaint from using a video licensed from Pond5, we’ll cover your legal expenses up to a certain amount. Under our Individual license, we cover a single person for up to $15,000, and under our Business license, we’ll protect an organization for up to $250,000.

Content used in political campaign ads falls into a category called “Sensitive Use,” where there’s a higher risk of legal issues arising from their use. Why? Maybe the model in the video objects to their association with a particular viewpoint. Or a filmmaker doesn’t want to be tied to a specific candidate. We also consider content that portrays alcohol, tobacco, or drugs, that depicts the commission of a crime, violence, or illegal activities, or sexual and adult content as “Sensitive Use.” Due to the increase in liability, we require the purchase of a Premium license, which covers up to $1,000,000 in legal indemnification for all content falling under “Sensitive Use.”

Pro Tip: Be particularly careful around free video sites. While it’s tempting to save money by downloading video clips for free, none of these sites offer any protection should you run into legal trouble with the use of their content.


Commercial vs. Editorial Use

Before creating ads for a political campaign, it’s important to understand the difference between Editorial and Commercial use.

If a video you see on Pond5 is marked as Editorial Use only, you can not use it in advertising, endorsements, or promotion per our license agreement. News organizations, documentary filmmakers, and media companies that produce non-commercial productions typically use Editorial video.

Content marked Commercial Use, however, is material we’ve cleared for use in advertising, promotion, and merchandising.

There may be cases where you find Editorial content that you wish to use in your promotional video. Our creative partners can turn editorial clips into commercially cleared content with a license upgrade. Reach out to for more information.


Fair Use

Many people who produce political ads also take advantage of Fair Use, an exception in United States copyright law that allows copyrighted work to be used in certain circumstances without a license and without permission. If you see short clips of TV reporters in campaign ads, for example, there’s a good chance the TV station did not grant permission to use it.

Determining whether the use of copyrighted material falls under fair use comes down to four factors:

  • The purpose and character of the use.
  • The nature of the copyrighted work.
  • The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.
  • The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

The application of Fair Use is highly subjective, and courts are constantly testing its limits, so our best advice is to speak with your legal team. Generally, the best approach is to seek permission from the copyright owner, which you are doing by choosing a video cleared for commercial use.


Exclusive Rights

Political campaign promoters often ask whether they can exclusively use a video clip or music track to ensure no other candidates use the same assets in their campaigns. The answer is “Yes!” We can do this through an exclusive rights agreement, where Pond5 would reach out to the copyright owner and negotiate a price for the exclusive right to use the content for a defined period.

Purchasing Exclusive Rights would result in removing the content from our library. We will also work with the Copyright owner to remove it from any other sites for the duration of the agreement.


Help is always close at hand

Political campaign content needs are wide-ranging and can differ based on the specific project. If you’re on a tight deadline or want free assistance finding relevant content for your project, our Research team can build a collection within 48 hours of the request. If you have questions about using stock media in any project, reach out to our Pond5 Creative Partners at +1 (855) 410-6789 or Our industry experts can help you navigate the most complex parts of a project, from finding the right content to managing your budget or selecting the proper license.