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A Guide to Image Licensing

In this guide to image licensing, integrated agency Crafted's Designer Chris Plowman takes you through the process of finding images online, the various licensing types that apply, the restrictions that each license type places on you and how and where you can use the images that you have found.

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A Guide to Image Licensing

  1. 1. Crafted INFORMATION Image licensingPhoto: Kevin Dooley / Flickr / CC BY 2.0w
  2. 2. Crafted CraftedINFORMATION INFORMATION Contents 1.0 Why license images? 2.0 Copyright and licensing 3.0 Types of licensing 3.1 Royalty Free 3.2 Rights Managed 3.3 Editorial 3.4 Creative Commons 3.2 Public Domain and Copyright Free 4.0 Conclusion Written by Chris Plowman Designer, Crafted. November 2012
  3. 3. CraftedINFORMATION 1.0 Why license images? 30 years ago, photography was a slow process; ever were; the work of a professional (or developing a negative into a positive image took enthusiastic amateur) has been crafted with hours and often days. In the digital age, images as much care and attention as any designer, have become simple to produce, edit and share. artist or carpenter. Today, we can take a photo with the device we carry in our pocket and publish it to any number It is for this reason that image licensing should of photo sharing services within seconds. be taken seriously, not just to avoid lawsuits or cease and desist requests, but to respect the craft This, along with the ability to search for images of those who spend their time creating images. on the likes of Google, seems to have devalued photography in some people’s eyes – no longer This guide will take you through the process of are photographers viewed as a select band of finding images online, the various licensing types skilled professionals, anyone with a camera or that apply and the restrictions that each license even a phone can be viewed as a photographer. type places on you and how and where you can use the images that you have found. However, photos taken by photographers should still be viewed with the same reverence as they
  4. 4. CraftedINFORMATION 2.0 Copyright and licensing Copyright is inherent in the creation of any type Copyright does expire, and, while in the UK of work; the second you take a photograph the this time period is 70 years after the date of copyright for that image is yours and no other the death of the copyright owner, expiration person or organisation may use it for any dates vary depending upon country. Therefore reason without your permission. it cannot be assumed that any image that is more than 70 years old is copyright free. Any image that is marked as copyright should not be used without prior permission from its A license is a document that enables the author author. However, it is also important to note of intellectual property to grant the use of their that copyright does not have to be labelled to work to others. A license, like copyright, is a be in effect. Consequently, you cannot assume legally binding agreement and depending on that just because an image does not specify the licence held, specific terms and conditions any copyright or license that it is okay to use it. need to be met by those wishing to use the work. The author of the image retains copyright of the image unless they state otherwise.
  5. 5. Crafted CraftedINFORMATION INFORMATION Types of license The different license types for images (or illustrations) can often seem confusing, but these rules exist to allow individuals to control how and where others can use their work. The current licence types include: • Royalty Free • Rights Managed • Editorial • Creative Commons • Public Domain & Copyright Free
  6. 6. CraftedINFORMATION 2.1 Royalty Free Images with a Royalty Free license are often The one-off cost approach makes royalty free Where to find them: purchased from stock photo services, such as images very cost effective. However, it is worth or Royalty noting that this type of licensing is not without Stock.xchng Free means that a person wishing to use an image its restrictions. will have to pay a one-off fee, usually dependent on the size or quality of the image, and can use For example: does not allow Although the quality of the images can their purchased image for a single project even images to be used on “items for resale, including vary enormously, this site has a large if that image is reproduced multiple times. prints, posters, calendars, mugs, mousepads, collection of images. The site uses its own t-shirts, games, etc.” In fact, the use of a royalty licensing system that is similar to Creative For example: An image may be purchased free image in print is restricted to 499,999 copies, Commons. Be sure to read the license from a stock site and used as the front cover without the purchase of an extended license. before using any images! for a brochure that is printed 5000 times. As the image is royalty fee, the only payment is for iStockphoto the initial usage of the image and not the 5000 reproductions of the image. A huge collection of stock imagery, on every subject. Images are available at varying prices depending on the size and quality required. Similar sites include:
  7. 7. CraftedINFORMATION 2.2 Rights Managed Rights Managed images work in a similar As mentioned, a Rights Managed license can Where to find them: way to Royalty Free images, but allow you be purchased on a variety of parameters, such greater control over the usage of the image. as usage type (eg. online advert, corporate Corbis images brochure, CD cover), number of impressions A Rights Managed licence comes in two or copies, the territory or geographic location forms, Non-Exclusive and Exclusive. A Non- and many more. Corbis focuses more on Rights Managed Exclusive licence means that you have to pay images, but still with an extensive library a fee each time you use a single image. Anyone The price of the license will depend on the of Royalty Free images. can purchase a license for the image. parameters that you require for the image. This can make the license more expensive Similar sites include: For example, you may have seen different than a Royalty Free image license, however websites using the same stock image. the quality of the image is often a lot greater. An Exclusive license allows you, and only you, to It is also worth noting that you should be use an image. These licenses tend to be expensive, aware of when the license expires. If the image but, by stopping others using the same image as is still being used after the license expiration your business, could be beneficial in terms of date, you would be infringing on the terms of brand identity and look and feel. However, not the agreement and may be fined accordingly. all images offer an Exclusive license.
  8. 8. CraftedINFORMATION 2.3 Editorial Editorial images are images that are licensed given permission for their image to be used Where to find them: specifically and only for use in newspapers, for commercial use. magazines, blogs or non-commercial Corbis images presentations. For example: You cannot use a photo of a Premier League football player to promote a Editorial licenses stipulate restrictions on usage, new football boot you are releasing (without a Corbis focuses more on Rights Managed size, placement, duration of use and geographic sponsorship deal), but you can use a properly images, but still with an extensive library distribution. Editorial images must only be used licensed image of the player in a blog piece of Royalty Free images. in content relating to events that are newsworthy about the weekend’s results. or of public interest. Similar sites include: While any Royalty Free and Rights Managed These images usually contain a celebrity, a image can be used for editorial purposes as well place, an event, a product such as an iPhone as a commercial purposes, Editorial images are or a Coca-Cola can, or people who have not exclusively for editorial use.
  9. 9. CraftedINFORMATION 2.4 Creative Commons Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation • If the author of the image has specified that Where to find them: that provides a standardised way for authors of modifications can be made under the same intellectual property to have complete control license as the original, known as share-alike, Flickr over the way their image is used by others. The then the modified image must adhere to the license consists of four parts: same restrictions as the original. This means that, if the author has specified under the The largest, online, photo sharing site license of the original image that the image has a dedicated section for Creative 1. Modifications cannot be used for commercial work, then Commons licensed images, filtered any modifications, for example if the original by license. This can also be searched The license can be set to one of three options is used as part of a larger composition, cannot through 3rd party sites like: concerning modification of the image. The be used in commercial applications either. license either: allows modification, does not allow modification or allows modification as Creative Commons Search long as the piece created is licensed under the 2. Commercial work same rules specified for the original image. The license will also specify whether the image Search across various sources for • If modification is allowed, then the image is may be used for commercial work or only Creative Commons licensed media. yours to do with as you please (eg. use the non-commercial work. If the images are to image as part of a larger composition). be used for advertising purposes, (eg. print advertisements or online banners) then only • If modification is not allowed, the image images that allow commercial work can must not be changed in any way. be selected.
  10. 10. CraftedINFORMATION 2.5 Creative Commons 3. License Jurisdiction CC Logos explained: The license may also specify where the image can be used, although this is rare. Images that Creative Commons No Derivatives have a country specific license should not be used online as you cannot control where the image can be accessed from. Non-Commercial Public Domain 4. Attribution All Creative Commons licenses come with an Attribution Share Alike attribution element, this requires the user of the image to link back to the original source. This usually consists of a link to the original image, the taker of the image and the license type. When displayed in a license: For example, technology and science website Attribution Non Commercial uses Creative Commons in its No Derivatives news articles and includes links at the end of its articles ( You must attribute the work, you may not use this work archive/2012-10/03/bfi-film-archive-online). for commercial purposes, you may not alter, transform, or build upon this work. This attribution does not have to be overly prominent, but should be easy to find and to read.
  11. 11. CraftedINFORMATION 2.6 Public Domain and Copyright Free Occasionally, the images you are looking for However, Public Domain and Copyright Free Where to find them: will be available under a Public Domain or images can be useful when you are searching Copyright Free license. In these cases the author for historical images, often the Copyright has Public Domain Pictures of the work has waived their rights, which means expired or the original author of the image that you can use these type of images however is unknown. and wherever you like. Wikimedia Commons All Public Domain or Copyright Free Anyone can contribute to image repositories images are free to download, edit, share, or galleries which means that there are a lot copy and distribute, but it is always wise Image After of images out there. The quality of these images to double check image licenses before you can vary and many are often quite poor. use any image. Flickr Freerange Stockvault
  12. 12. Crafted CraftedINFORMATION INFORMATION Conclusion As with most things in life, you often get what you pay In between these two extremes sits Royalty Free, a happy for, and image licenses are no different. Rights Managed medium of the two, providing a wide ranges of subjects images are always going to be the most expensive way at an affordable cost. to license an image for a project, but, when the quality of that image is important, this is a cost worth paying. Which license you choose depends on your budget, your need and the suitability of the images available, but, with Creative Commons and Copyright Free images are the so many options, there is a way to find a suitable, properly cheapest way to obtain licensed images, especially for licensed image for whatever need, budget or application. a busy blog or news service. They are free, but the quality It is worth remembering that whatever fee you are paying and suitability of these images means the search for the for the use of an image, you are paying for the author’s right image can take a long time and often prove fruitless. time, experience and expertise.
  13. 13. CraftedINFORMATION 32 Fore Street Ipswich IP4 1JU T. +44 (0) 1473 213222 E. Clerkenwell Workshops 27/31 Clerkenwell Close London EC1R 0AT T. +44 (0) 20 7061 6216