The Real Royalty Free Definition
February 19, 2017
A licensing process which image rights are sold for almost all purpose is called Royalty-Free licensing. Unlike rights-managed licensing where image license is priced based on how the image will serve its purpose, royalty free provides broad perpetual usage rights for a one-time payment.
Rights-managed license has restrictions including length of time, regions, size of its image, and more. On the other hand, Royalty-Free license is much less restrictive and offers buyers affordable and flexible images and pricing. Due to the rise of digital image distribution, Royalty-Free became popular. Nowadays, it holds vast majority of stock images.
You only have to pay one time for the stock image and you can use that image as many times and in many places as you can. This is the real royalty free definition. It does not mean that you can use the images free of charge. You have to pay a one-time flat fee so you are free from paying royalties.
Stock photography agencies sell stock images with a royalty-free license to allow the buyers to use the images in multiple ways. Keep in mind that you are only obtaining the right to use the images with few restrictions. You do not own the image once purchased. The photographer who created the image or the contributor is still the owner of the image. He holds the copyright.
Royalty free covers a specific copyright and most of the time it does not affect the actual copyright protection. It is granted with a license to use intellectual property in the return for a flat fee with no continuing fee. The owner still have all rights to the copyright except if specifically extended by agreement.
Agency and photographer share profits from the sold licensed image. Typically, the price of Royalty-Free (RF) images is cheaper than its Rights Managed (RM) counterpart. Agencies sell royalty free photos, giving their buyers the right to use the images. However, the purchase does not transfer the copyright of the image and its ownership.