What is a Royalty Free image or photograph?


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Is it free?

Hmmm this term, “royalty free” or “royalty-free” or “RF” has the word ‘free’ in it.  Does that mean its free for the taking?  Nope!  Sorry to disappoint but the word “free” in the two part term “royalty-free” means that the image is free from royalties.  Basically it frees the image from paying royalty from every single use.  For example, a royalty free image can be licensed for a single fee and used on a blog.  The licensor/buyer does not have to pay a fee every single time the web page is viewed.

Wikipedia has this definition of royalty-free:

“In photography and the illustration industry, it refers to a copyright license where the user has the right to use the picture without many restrictions based on one-time payment to the licensor. The user can therefore use the image in several projects without having to purchase any additional licenses. RF licenses can not be given on an exclusive basis. In stock photography, RF is one of the common licenses sometimes contrasted with Rights Managed licenses and often employed in subscription-based or microstock photography business models”

Not all RF Licenses are the same

Keep in mind that not all RF licenses are the same.  Different sources have different rules for use and you should read through the license agreement for the particular image and agency that you are licensing.  For example image size and intended use are the basis for most license agreements.  If you are purchasing a small image for a web site then that is the intended purpose and you can turn around and use it as a book cover for your next bestseller.  There are different licenses for print based on the higher quality image and the print runs.

Royalty Free Image Licenses from Dogford Studios

Dogford Studios is part of the Symbiostock Network of individual artists who offer their work as stock direct to the buyer, cutting out and unnecessary middle men.  This allows the artist to actually receive a fair share of the proceeds from the sales of licenses for their work.  At all times the artist retains the copyrights on the images you license or in a sense “rent” for a specific purpose from the artist.  The only way for you to purchase the actual rights from the artist would be to pay the artist a “sell the rights” fee (typically thousands of dollars) if they agree to part with the image.

You can view the End User License Agreement here

Copyright – Edward M. Fielding – www.dogfordstudios.com