Royalty-Free Stock Photos:
What Does Royalty-Free Really Mean?

Royalty-free stock photos

Royalty-free stock photos are a great source of additional material for different types of video productions. Here are some things you should know about licensing when you're looking for the right material for your production!

What Is Really Meant by "Royalty-Free"?

What does royalty-free really mean?

So… What does that really mean…? Well… It doesn't mean that the images are FREE … Like you don't pay for them (laugh)!

You get permission to use them by buying them… Or more exactly... by buying the license  to use them.

Definition of Royalty-Free...

* Royalty-free or RF, refers to the right to use copyrighted material or intellectual property without the need to pay royalties or license fees for each use or per volume sold after the initial fee is paid.

Once you've done that then you can use them again and again without paying any additional royalty fees. You can use them in your video production (and any copies you make of that video), you can use them on your website, use them in print media etc. they're yours to use.

Just remember this however... that… In the licensing agreement… You do not  have exclusive  use of them… Meaning somebody else can also buy the rights to them also and use them in their... 

  • Video Production,
  • Graphic Production,
  • Print Media,
  • Website...

Just the same as you! The exact same photo (or video or music etc).

"Royalty-Free" Versus
"Rights Managed " Licenses…

Stock image licenses break down into two main types...

#1. Royalty-Free...

You get nearly unlimited use of the stock photos. You can use the image in virtually any application for us long as you like. You have to comply with all the terms of the licensing agreement however. 

Following the initial payment...  there are no additional royalty payments or fees. So again... Royalty-free means that once a license is paid, the images may be used many times without paying additional fees.

Buying this type of license protects yourself and your clients when you use these types of photos in your video or graphic productions as you can use them over and over again without fear of legal challenges.

#2. Rights Managed...

A Rights Managed image gives you the right to use that image (normally in a restricted fashion as per the fine print in the licensing agreement when you first buy it).

 Restrictions are typically... limitations placed on such things as... 

  • Duration of use, 
  • Geographic location, 
  • Industry etc. 

As established by your license agreement.

In General... with Almost All Licenses…

When you buy  a license to an image you can use it in nearly any application and for as long as you like (according to the type of licensing agreement you buy).

Cost for images covered in most types of licenses is often based on file size, the number of permitted users as well as other factors.

There are other types of agreements course such as the ones you find in Creative Commons licenses or with pictures in the Public Domain… That we will get into in later articles.

Where Do You Find Royalty-Free Stock Photos?

There are a "million" sites where you can find royalty-free stock photos on the Internet (smile).

A simple search will give you pages and pages of sites. It would of course be up to you to take a look at the site and see which ones your the most comfortable with. Usually it's more about the ease of navigation and the price rather than the legalities on acquiring the photo stock on a particular site.

Royalty-free is royalty-free so… From site to site the legalities are going to be the same (pretty much) but... 

Be sure to read carefully however what each site is talking about when they say "royalty-free". Sometimes there is a little bit of difference in the restrictions for use.

I would hate to see you buy a royalty-free stock photo from one of these places and not be able to use it in all the ways that you would want your video production to be seen and distributed.

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