Which license should you set for selling your stock photos?
As I mentioned before, as soon as you start with stock, I recommend that you create 3 folders on your hard drive, one for each submission type. I will assume that most of you will start submitting royalty free but once in a while, especially if you take your camera everywhere, you may come across a rare photo opportunity.
Let’s say your image doesn’t need a model release but it is still highly desirable and not easy to copy. Do you sell it royalty free or Rights Managed? Tough call. You need to try and establish its worth before you decide because once you have sold it royalty free, it is very difficult to sell any other license.
E.g. What company in their right mind would want to pay top Dollar for an image under a Rights Managed license knowing it had already sold as Royalty Free. You see, a royalty free image can be used over and over by the buyer on as many projects as he sees fit, he is only restricted on the print run and other reasonable limitations.
However, if it does need a model release for Royalty Free but does have some editorial value, you call sell it as such with no need for a model release…
For example, these two shots were taken on Weymouth beach during the filming of an episode of Eastenders (a popular British soap opera). I waited and waited for a shot that was different and got two of the same actress giving the same pose! I sold both, along with 5 others to an online magazine through Mr Paparazzi.
Note: If these were being sold exclusively anywhere, I would have lost this income.
So let’s give an overview of each license to help you make up your mind.
When a buyer is looking to purchase a license for an image, he needs to give relevant information to the agency as to how it will be used, such as:
- Media placement
- Reproduction size
- Production run
- Usage period, etc
The value will then be determined and agreed before the image can be used. This can be quite lucrative for huge print runs for large advertising campaigns. That image can only be used by the buyer for those exact specifications, if he wishes to use the image again or for an increased print run etc, he must pay an additional license fee.
This is Alamy’s explanation
“Traditionally licensed images, which are presented on our system by the letter L can be either non-exclusive or exclusive and means that the image is licensed for a specific use. For a non exclusive stock photo, the buyer pays a licence fee each time they use the image, but another buyer can also purchase and use the image under the same license.
The buyer must also specify, each time: intended use, media, territory and duration, and pricing is based on this criteria.
Exclusive options for your licensed stock photo purchase are available only where the phrase ‘Rights protected?’ appears underneath the price calculator. Please see Rights Protected images for more information.”
This is a slight variation on the above and again, best explained by Alamy.
“This is a term used for exclusive usage of a traditionally licensed stock photo. Rights protection can be an advantage for high-profile projects as it can guarantee some exclusivity. The buyer obtains exclusive use of a stock photo under the terms of the license.
These terms may affect the use, media, territory and/or duration in which the stock photo can be used by other buyers. Total protection can be offered to cover all these terms. Pricing for this type of license varies depending on the terms requested. Customers of Alamy would typically pay between 20-30% more to guarantee an exclusive licence for their project.
As with the traditional non-rights protected equivalent, they would also pay every time they used the stock photo. Rights protection is only offered for your stock photo purchase when the phrase ‘Rights Protection’ appears above the calculator.”
So you can add your image to Alamy as Licensed but make it available for Rights Managed protection. That simply means that as soon as a buyer take out a Rights Managed license on your image, all other buyers are restricted as to its use depending on the license granted to the original buyer.
This can be great if you take a shot that a multinational company stumbles across and would be perfect for their next ad campaign…it could happen and it does!
The selling price of a Royalty Free image is solely based on the output size and resolution of the image being purchased. It can be used multiple times on multiple projects. Model releases are required if the image contains a recognisable face.
Microstock agencies place limitations on the use of stock images so if you are looking to buy RF images, you need to check the terms and conditions so see what usage restrictions you have. Should you need more usage, most microstock websites/agents give the photographer the option of offering extended licenses for their images.
This is something I highly recommend that you do as the extra income can be very welcome.
This brings a point to mind that may cause people to rethink:
“Why should I allow someone to use an extended license so they can use and sell my image on mugs, T-shirts and huge advertising campaigns to make a load of money and I only get a few Dollars for my efforts?”
Well, think about this logically. That buyer is there to buy, not at a traditional agency where it would cost him or her a lot more so he is going to buy there anyway.
If you had your image at a traditional agency, he would not buy it. You may as well take that sale and eat your pride a little.
Saying that though, if your image really is spectacular and “uncopyable”, you should think about hosting at a traditional agency and marketing it yourself. More on that later.
Pride and ego should really take a back seat if you intend to get into stock. Try and shut out thoughts and delusions of grandeur and just see it as a business.
Your pride can and will take a few hits as your wonderful image that you are so sure will make a fortune gets rejected. It happens to ALL levels of photographers, believe me! This is just a part time business for me (for now) so just do the best you can in the time you have and don’t stop!
Take photos – upload – receive money – move on – take photos and repeat.
So, which license? It is all down to you and I suggest that should you happen to take a beautiful, stunning, unmatched image, seek advice before submitting under a particular license. As I mentioned before, I recommend starting with Royalty Free, shooting the best you can and uploading like crazy to build a large portfolio of quality images.
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