Licensing FAQ

What are the different types of licences on offer?

Rights-Managed (RM) - A good licence to opt for if you know exactly what you're going to be using the image for (.i.e. a brochure, a leaflet or for your website) and for how long. RM can also offer you peace of mind as pictures can be licensed on an exclusive basis, which means you don't end up using the same image as your competitor (although that may cost you a bit extra). Once you know the purpose and the size needed, you then negotiate a specific price in advance with a picture library or with the creator direct. Prices range from £40 or less for editorial use to several thousand pounds for use in an extensive advertising campaign for example.

Royalty Free (RF) - RF was created to offer more flexibility to buyers, so this works if you want an image that can be used on lots of different platforms such as a website, brochures, and leaflets for example. Under a RF license, images are often priced by digital file size, rather than for specific usage. The smaller the file size, the less you can do with the image (like creating a billboard poster), so, the lower the fee. An RF image may be used multiple times for multiple projects without incurring additional fees, but only by the same user.  There will be some restrictions on transferring permissions to others to use an RF image and how an RF images is used commercially, so read the fine print. 

Microstock (MS) - MS is an offshoot of Royalty Free. MS differs from traditional stock photography as images are sourced almost exclusively via the internet representing content from amateur as well as professional photographers. The pricing structure of MS photography is relatively basic and varies from company to company, but generally most MS agencies offer single images from a pound upwards. You can also buy subscription packages allowing you to download a set number of images every day/month/year.


How much will it cost me to use a picture and how long can I use it for?

You might be surprised, but some pictures can be licensed for as little as a pound. The price will depend on the quality of the file size, the image itself, how exclusive it is, how you're planning to use it and which agency you're licensing the image from. Depending on those factors, prices can rise to tens, hundreds and in some cases thousands of pounds.

Can I automatically use a picture for anything I want once I've licensed it?

This depends on the type of licence you buy. Some will let you use an image for a number of projects; others will be very specific as to how and for how long you can use it.

Over the last few years, picture libraries have tried to create more flexible licenses to help meet the demands of the 21st century. Different licences are detailed on this page, but as a rule of thumb you should always assume nothing and check with the licence holder before you purchase.