Royalty Free Photography
Recently, royalty free photography has experienced a surge in popularity. By understanding the background of photography royalties, amateur and more experienced photographers can learn how to submit and protect their photographs.
With advances in technology, the Internet and digital photography, thousands of photographs can now be accessed and downloaded for use on websites, in brochures and as illustrations for other products. With such open access to photographs, the landscape for selling and purchasing these photos has changed. Traditional rights-managed or contracted photographs have become the expensive alternative to royalty free photographs.
What are photography royalties?
Photography royalties refer to the money paid to a photographer each time the photograph is used commercially.
When is a photograph royalty free?
Royalty free photography is photography that can be licensed for continued use by a single user for a one-time fee. Different from rights-managed photography that has a per use fee, royalty free photography allows the purchaser to use the picture multiple times (although usually a limited number) without additional fees.
Who can use royalty free photographs?
Anyone who purchases the rights to a royalty free photograph can use it, within the limits of the agreement. Generally, agreements allow the purchaser to use the photograph a specific number times while forbidding him to sell or license the photograph to a third party.
Individuals or a business may purchase royalty free photography. If a business purchases the photographs, the license may limit the people that have the right to use the images. If this number is exceeded, another license may be required or additional fees may be charged.
How can royalty free photographs be used?
Royalty free photographs can be used for private or commercial use, including personal or business websites, company brochures, unique artwork, presentations and advertisements.
Most royalty free photography agreements have clauses that the photographs cannot be used in a defamatory way towards the creator. Also, the photographs may have decency guidelines, stating that the photographs cannot be altered to portray a pornographic scene that would violate the government’s standards of decency.
How can amateur photographers submit work on royalty free photography websites?
The internet has many websites that offer royalty free photographs. Each company has its own regulations for submitting work to be used in a royalty free capacity.
Some organizations, like the International Library of Photography, set up contests for amateur photographers to submit their photographs. Winners are selected from the applicants to have their photographs added to the website’s collection of royalty free photographs.
Other companies, like PhotoSpin.com, accept low-resolution samples of your photography for review. They evaluate the submitted photographs and contact you if they’re interested in using your photographs on their site.
Shutterstock is an example of a firm that has a less rigorous screening process to encourage amateur photographers. Interested photographers can upload their royalty free photographs to websites that automatically include the photos in their collection.
The best way to know the requirements of a company that deals in royalty free photography collections is to visit the company’s website. If, after reviewing the site, you’re still not sure of their policy, contact the company directly.
How can photographers protect their photographs?
Since copies of digital photographs are usually the same quality as the original, photographers can have trouble protecting their photographs from unauthorized use. To limit unauthorized use, new digital copyright protection techniques have been created. These techniques include:
- encryption: Some companies embed virtual “fingerprints” on photographs in their collection. While such fingerprints are invisible to the naked eye, they can reveal ownership information when used with Photoshop software.
- low-resolution distribution: This technique allows interested buyers to review photographs only as “thumbnail” images. While this method keeps the photograph from being illegally duplicated, it tends to dissuade buyers from purchasing the photograph, since they can’t see it clearly.
- watermarks: Similar to “proof” markings on physical photographs, this method superimposes a semi-transparent watermark over a photograph, preventing the theft of an image directly from a computer screen.
Although none of these techniques is completely secure, each helps a photographer protect his copyrighted royalty free photographs.
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