You can go onto any website and what makes it appealing to visitors is the visual content. With Royalty free images (RF), you can improve your website’s look and style. People are more likely to be drawn to websites if the pictures are of high quality and are visually appealing. If a website is in black and white, plain and boring it isn’t likely that the visitor will stay for long.

Royalty Free Images

How Does it All Work?

Stock photography agencies use Royalty Free licenses to sell stock images created by people. This license permits the buyer – with a set of rules – to use the image in multiple ways, for a single fixed fee. You only pay for the license once, and you can use it unlimitedly within the rights.

The person who created the photo originally is still the owner of the photo. They still hold the copyright which means the ownership the item, and other intellectual physical or non-physical creations. Keeping the copyright permits photographers and artists to sell their work multiple times and generate financial gain.

These pictures and images are then uploaded onto sites such as Pixabay, Image source, Pexels etc. You should always make sure you check the terms and conditions on these files because you could end up in big trouble over the use and copyright.

Are Royalty Free Images Free?

No, Royalty Free images are not free. Royalty Free Images are licensed for a price which is made up by the stock agency selling them.If you are wondering why it has the word ‘Free’ in ‘Royalty Free’ this is because it means you don’t have to pay royalties. Whether it is the owner of the image or to the agency selling the license, any time you use the image.Any images can be licensed multiple times with a one-time payment from the buyer, the photos normally are very cheap and easy to buy. The price of royalty free images changes depending on the agency, but they are normally much cheaper than other license types.

Main Features of Royalty-Free Images

Each stock photo agency states their own terms in their licenses, but here are the overall generic qualities for RF images:

  • Exclusivity – The license is for the buyer, and for the buyer only. When you purchase an RF image you are not allowed to give it or sell it on to anyone else.
  • Long-term – You can use the RF image for as long as you wish, this means that there is no time restraint except if it’s specified by the agency who licenses it.
  • Wide-reaching – RF license lets you use the image no matter where you are in the world. This means that there is no geographic limitation when you use an RF image unless it’s the agency who licenses it tells you.
  • Uses multiple times – RF license lets you use the image with many different choices of usage. It can be physical (prints) or digital uses, and with multiple distribution methods.

RF license companies provide contracts with all the details you need on their licensing terms, the allowed usages and the restrictions and limitations. It is very important to know those terms, to make sure the RF image will be fit for your intended use.

How Can I Use Royalty Free Images?

Royalty-free images can be beneficial not just for websites, you can use them for web ads, online marketing campaigns, promotional content, banners, t-shirts and print designs. Royalty free images are also useful if you are unable to take pictures or unsure what picture to decide on to help promote your website.

Royalty Free Licence Types

RF images are licensed in two ways that outline the usage: Commercial and Editorial. Each image, from the time it’s created, becomes automatically protected under copyright laws. Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of photos covered by copyright law. Most royalty-free licenses permit images to be legally used multiple times by the same customer without additional fees.

1. Editorial RF Licenses

These are more limiting than commercial RF. You still only pay for the license once and you get to use it forever for editorial purposes only.

Note: Any commercial or for-profit usage is prohibited.Most agencies also limit the distribution allowance, so make sure you check it out in case you get caught out.

3. Commercial RF Licenses

RF images can be used for any commercial purpose, both physical and print: marketing and advertising, websites, graphic designs, in-house designs, and more. However, distribution limits still apply. Other uses like TV or film, restrict the usage to the budget of the project (Shutterstock, for example, does this).

You may also use stock photos in templates and web templates, book and eBook covers, and all kinds of products for resale, but this is not permitted with a Standard RF license.

Restrictions on Usage of Royalty Free Images

There are exclusions to use RF images that affect both Commercial and Editorial licenses, and that is important to be aware of:

  • You cannot share the image with other users or place on a network, intranet, or drive with shared access, nor transfer or gift the image to any third party.
  • You are not allowed to resell or redistribute the image. You have to use it as part of an essential design.
  • You cannot use the image in pornographic or adult-related content or purposes, nor any other morally questionable uses.
  • You cannot use images in any defamatory way that means adverse suggestion on models or properties shown in the image. This includes concepts of sexuality, gender, health, politics, and any other sensitive uses.
  • You cannot use images that can pretend that they are endorsing a product or service directly.
  • You cannot use the image as part of a trademark, design-mark or logo. This is because of legal impossibility: as you do not own the image, you cannot register any design containing it, as your own.
  • Each agency may add or remove restrictions to a usage of their RF images, so you must make sure you read the licensing terms carefully, but these are the limitations that are common to all of them.

What’s the Difference Between Royalty-Free (RF) and Rights-Managed (RM)?

Royalty-free (RF) licenses have very few restrictions. Most images with an RF license can be used several times by the same customer without extra fees. RF images are not given on an exclusive basis and are typically less expensive than Rights Managed. RF licenses are a popular option because they are easier for customers to maintain.

Rights Managed (RM) licenses grant permission to use an image for a one-time specified use. However, if the customer needs the same image again, he/she must pay an additional fee. Sometimes Rights Managed images are licensed to prevent others from using the same image.