Image Licensing Guide

- Never licensed images for your business or personal use before?

- Want to start licensing but not sure how it works?

- Don't know the difference between license types or not clear about the license terms and restrictions?

You are not alone! We will answer these and other questions related to Rights Managed and Royalty-free image licensing below, to make the whole process of image licencing a breeze.
Rights Managed vs Royalty Free
Licensing process
Introduction to image licensing
If you are reading this guide you are most probably already aware that photographs, illustrations as well as other creative media (images) have intellectual property rights (copyright) attached to them at the moment of creation, and that the copyright belongs to the content creator (author). In simple words, images cannot be used for any purposes without a permission from their author. A simple use, whether in a social network post, on a company website, in an editorial article or in an ad, without a valid license would constitute a copyright infringement, and is punishable by law with fines of up to $150,000. Some of the sure ways to get an image you can use without any further implications, is to hire a professional photographer to take the photo for you, or to license an image from a photo library / stock photo agency.

Taking into the consideration that an average license fee ranges from as little as $40 to $250, the image licensing is a quick an easy process. Hiring a professional photographer to take and edit images for you can cost anywhere between $400 and several thousand of dollars. Using an image without a license first of all is unethical and unfair to image creators. Moreover, there are multiple legal companies which are partnering with photographers and illustrators in order to protect their intellectual rights, it is only right and logical to acquire the images that you need legally and use without worries or stress.

It is important to mention, that it's a good practice, and often is a requirement, especially in editorial context, to credit the authors, whenever you use their images. Please note, that crediting alone doesn't give you the right to use the image(s). They still have to be properly licensed.
Rights Managed vs Royalty Free. Understanding the license types.
Once you have found the perfect image for your design/publication, you will need to choose license options appropriate for your usage. Every image is distributed under a specific license which is either Rights Managed (RM) or Royalty-free (RF) and that cannot be changed. This is where some of us often get confused, because these two license types must be approached differently, and selecting the terms of a RM license might require a certain degree of being acquainted with the licensing terms.

In simple words, images distributed under Royalty-free license are generally less unique, mainstream kind of photographs and illustrations. Selecting the right license option for them comes down to selecting the image size for your usage. The image size defines the license fee and the images can be used perpetually for the project they were licensed for. In this case RF means that you pay for a particular usage once and forget about it.

On the other hand, acquiring a Rights Managed or RM license will require you to enter the exact details of the placement and the duration of the intended usage. RM images are generally more unique and valuable. Every usage is kept on file, and every license is recorded. One of the reasons for it, is that by narrowing down the usage to the minimum required terms you can save on the RM license fee. While buying a high resolution RF image, regardless of its placement, can cost you $200+, an RM image of the same size for an editorial use may cost only half as much or even less. Another reason, is the ability for customers to be able to license RM images exclusively. By keeping all the licensing records we are able to trace if a particular image has been or is being used in a specific context or within a specific territory. Many of our clients prefer having exclusive licenses for certain type of uses, such as, book covers, advertisement, outdoor displays, major commercial uses etc. Once an exclusive license is purchased, a restriction is placed on the licensed image, and depending on the type of exclusivity, this image cannot be licensed by anyone else for a similar usage or within the territory of its distribution until the exclusivity term expires.

For customers who prefer a license with flexible placement terms, we offer license packs: Corporate commercial package and Advertising and promo package. These packages cover all corporate or advertising and promotional uses for the selected duration of the license.

More about Licenses and the License Agreement...
Image licensing process. Selecting the license terms.
We will start with Royalty Free images. Selecting the right license is very straightforward in this case. We are presented with a number of options starting from Small Web to Extra Large Print size. The size of an image is generally measured in pixels (px) or in relative size, according to its DPI (dots per inch) for print. The lower the DPI of a publication the larger the image can be printed without noticing any artifacts. Most printed publications have DPI of 150-300. We have 300dpi as a relative reference for printed uses on our website.
Royalty-free license screenshotRoyalty-free license screenshot
Selecting a Rights Managed license. Unlike with RF images, when choosing a RM license, you are presented with a price calculator which will guide you through the questions related to the intended usage. Once the main usage category is selected, you will be required to specify the placement details, the territory of the distribution and the license duration. Let's break down the last two:

Rights Managed license screenshotRights Managed license screenshot
- Territory of distribution is the territory where the image is going to be used or displayed, and not where the licensee (the person or company which is licensing an image) is located. For an online usage, in most cases, the territory is worldwide, unless it's an internal company website which operates only within a specific region, and is not accessible to general public. If it's a printed publication, the distribution territory, is the territory where that publication is going to be marketed or offered for sale. We have a number of multi-region options, such as, Worldwide, World English Language, North America, World Excluding USA, to simplify the selection of the correct region. We offer license extension/upgrade options for our clients, which allow them to expand the distribution territory at a later stage after acquiring a license.

- License duration. By default, the license starts on the day it was purchased. This date can be changed to any day in the future. A retroactive license cannot be purchased. The license duration is based upon the intended usage duration and has to cover the entire duration of the licensed image being used/distributed within the selected placement. In some cases, for example books, the distribution duration may vary upon the demand of a publication and you might not know for how long you want the license to last. For cases like this, just like with the territory of distribution, we offer an easy way to extend the duration of a Rights Managed license at a later stage. When the license term is about to expire, we send an automatic email to the licensee, to notify them of the upcoming expiration and offer relicensing options.

Image licensing process. Adding to cart, Check out, Payment, Download.
Once you are happy with the license terms, you can add the image to cart. Multiple licenses of the same image or multiple licenses of different images will receive an automatic discount. The more licenses you buy, the higher the discount.

At this stage, you will need to register an account if you haven't done so yet. Your contact information is necessary for issuing you a legally valid image license. We respect your privacy and your data will not be shared with any third parties. Read more about it in our Privacy Policy...

Upon checkout you will be asked to accept the License Agreement and to specify the Capacity in which you are acting, either a Licensee (the primary user of an image) or a Buyer (usually a graphic designer or a publisher who is licensing an image for their client).

We support two currencies USD and CAD and a variety of most popular forms of payments. For an instant image download please use either PayPal, a Credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay.

Our Canadian customers can checkout and pay their invoice via Interac. The license will become valid and the image available upon the receipt and verification of the payment, usually within 1-6 hrs.

For corporate customers who are unable to pay with a credit card or PayPal, we offer flexible options of payment via a check or a bank transfer. Upon checkout (select Check option) you will receive an invoice which must be paid within 30 days. The license will become valid and the image available upon the receipt of the bank transfer or clearance of the check payment, usually within 4-10 days.

Once your payment is processed, your order, the invoice, the record of the license, and the licensed images will be available from your account page, where you will be able to access, upgrade or extend the license, and download or email the licensed images. The licensed images are delivered unwatermarked in a high-resolution jpeg format. As a token of gratitude, we give you a rewards credit for every purchase from our website. The rewards credit can be applied towards your future orders upon checkout.

When the term of the license is over, you will receive an automatic notice of expiration. Once expired, the licensed images cannot be used without extending the current license or acquiring a new one, and must be removed from display/distribution.

We hope that our guide has helped you to understand the licensing terms and the entire licensing process a little better. If something is unclear, please fell free to contact us.

We really appreciate when our clients send their finished designs featuring our images. We are thrilled to add them to our portfolio of published works, and if you are so kind, to feature your testimonial on our website.