Types of Stock Photo Licenses You Need to Know When Looking to Buy Images for Commercial Use

While there are numerous photography websites to get both paid and free stock photos, they come with many copyright restrictions (licenses). Infringing on these licenses could get your site pulled down, or worse still legal action taken against you. There are 3 types of stock photo licenses you should acquaint yourself with before buying any photo online: Rights managed, royalty free and extended. Although every photography website adjusts these licenses and incorporates their own requirements, every license comes along with its concepts and terms that apply to almost all of them. Let’s go into the details and see how each license works:

Royalty free license – The most popular license for images for commercial use

This is the most popular and affordable kind of stock photo license out there. You might stumble across a photography website advertising royalty free images. The truth is royalty free doesn’t mean the images are free. It implies that you’ll not be required to pay additional royalties to the photographer or photography website on top of the original licensing fee.

Essentially, a royalty free license is a one-off payment, at a flat rate fee. The photographer or photography website lays down the licensing fee for a particular image. All you need to do is pay for that licensing fee on a one-time basis. Once you buy that license, you’re free to use that image as many times as you wish without paying any further royalties.

This kind of stock photo license is suited for budget-conscious buyers since the royalty free images are relatively low priced. The disadvantage to royalty free stock photo license is that the photos are non-exclusive, which means anyone is able to purchase the license and use the photos. Since they are affordable, many companies, individuals or other commercial entities can use them at the same time. This explains why you can stumble across the same image on multiple websites. Click here to access some royalty free pictures on Shopify’s platform!

Rights managed license applies to both paid and free stock photos 

Although rights managed stock photo license is not as popular as royalty free, it offers something that separates it from the competition: exclusive usage rights. Rights managed license is customized for your specific use. It accords you the opportunity to utilize photos in strong-minded fashion, for a pre-determined period of time, in a specific region, and you are free to use it as many times as you wish for the stipulated time period. The good thing is that the licensing conditions are flexible, and you are allowed to request specific rights to cover your specific needs.

Rights managed photos are typically more costly than royalty free photos. The minimum price for a rights managed license is $50. However, the price increases depending on the rights you incorporate. The upside to rights managed license is that the photography website or individual issuing the license controls the image rights. This means you can use the image exclusively for the stipulated period. This mitigates over use of the image you purchased. The photography website can also supply you with the image usage history on request. This allows you to see how the image was utilized in the past to devise ingenious ways to use the same image.

Extended or enhanced license – A license that allows you to extend your rights regarding images for commercial use

Extended stock photo license has a lot in common with royalty free license. It allows you to extend your image rights to encompass those specific uses outlawed by the basic royalty free license. This license might encompass the right to extend the limit of image copies you can reproduce or scratch out the limit completely by reproducing the image copies according to your wish. Extended stock photo licenses are typically expensive than royalty free licenses. They are, however, beneficial when you intend to get a lot more rights than the royalty free licenses offers. The downside to extended free stock photo licenses is that not all photography websites offer those right extensions to buyers. They might offer only a few extensions, which mean your desired rights might not be fully covered. Note that all the above licenses do not give you full ownership of image. You only buy the right to use the image. The full ownership is retained by the photographer or the photography website. Also, the photography websites outlaw usage of the images for sensitive matters such as adult-related content, criminal activities, or any other illegal purposes.