Unless you hire a photographer, take your own photos or do your own graphic design work, you may need to use outside sources for your photography, illustrations, or other graphic images that you include in your marketing materials. Here are a few things you need to know about licensing photography and copyright laws including the different types of licensing options available.
- Flat Fee – Flat fee images are single images that are offered at one flat rate. They are similar to Royalty free images, but are for one designated end-user only.
- Rights Managed – Rights managed/protected images are purchased for a specific, clearly defined use, and the price is determined by the scope of that use. The more you use the image and the higher the distribution, the greater the fee will be. Additionally, the image cannot be used in any way that is not agreed to and invoiced for. One benefit of rights protected photography is that for an additional fee, you can protect against a competitor using the same image.
Differences between Royalty Free and Rights Managed Photography
In terms of subject matter, royalty free images are quickly catching up to rights managed. In most cases, you can find images on your particular subject matter in both categories. However, Rights managed images tend to be quite a bit more expensive than Royalty free images. This is because the copyright owner maintains control over how the picture can be used, and can grant you protection against a competitor using that image (for a fee.) With Royalty free or Flat fee images, you cannot buy that kind of protection. Additionally, Rights managed images tend to be more focused on conveying a theme or story in a complete way so that they are the focal point in your piece.
Penalties for Copyright Infringement
Legally, the person who holds the copyright to a photo has the absolute right to tell you how you can and can’t use it. When you license a photo through one of the above methods, you are doing simply that – licensing it. There is no transfer of copyright involved. Therefore, you are subject to the licensing agreement that comes with the picture. If you steal an image from a website or use an image in a way that is inconsistent with its terms of agreement, you are infringing on the owner’s copyright.
The penalties for copyright infringement are harsh. If you are caught, you can be charged up to $150,000 per infringement. And if you are accused, the burden of proof falls on you. You have to prove that you did indeed purchase the rights to use it.