Let’s face it. You probably don’t find yourself discussing U.S. Copyright Law and image licensing over dinner with your friends. It’s just not the most exciting topic. But that doesn’t mean this stuff isn’t important — really important.
And, even if you go about securing the rights to an image the right way, licenses may expire and they may have limitations. Using an image beyond the contract puts you back in dangerous territory.
The bottom line: As you race to keep up with the constant demand for visual content, you need to keep track of your usage rights. Don’t risk a lawsuit or your brand’s reputation.
To help get your head around licensing, here are 6 definitions you should learn. For more definitions and tips on managing your visual media, also check out our resource, Copyright 101: A Glossary for Marketers.
A license agreement is a legal agreement granting permission to exercise a specified right or rights to a work, often encompassed in an invoice. A license agreement is typically produced by the creator, agency, or stock photography source and signed by the licensee. A license agreement should be written, though an oral license may be enforceable if it qualifies as a contract under the principles of contract law. (Source: Picture Licensing Glossary)
A license fee is the price charged by a licensor to a licensee in exchange for a grant of rights permitting the use of one or more images. A variety of factors, such as circulation, the size of reproduction and specific image qualities affect the determination of a particular fee. The license fee is typically communicated through the license agreement. (Source: Picture Licensing Glossary)
A non-exclusive license is a grant of rights issued by a licensor to a licensee that does not preclude the licensor from granting use of the work to others. Unless otherwise negotiated, licenses are non-exclusive. (Source: American Society of Media Photographers)
Royalty Free Images
Royalty Free, or RF, images refer to the right to use a copyrighted image without the need to pay a royalty or license fee for each use, time period of use, or other usage terms. Essentially, a buyer has a one-time right to the photo(s) without many restrictions. Specifics vary by the licensing agreement. (Source: PhotoShelter)
Rights Managed Images
Rights Managed, or RM, images give the licensee the ability to use a specific image in a specific way for a specific period of time. The price of a Rights Managed image is generally calculated based on the following factors: image usage (e.g. Commercial, Editorial, Digital, Internal, etc.), usage specifications (e.g. image size, run size, duration, etc.), and target market (e.g. one state, a country, worldwide). (Source: PhotoShelter)
Usage rights are the terms of the license that specify the type of media, size of reproduction, duration, and locations in which the work will appear. Other parameters can include: licensee, licensor, media, quantity, size, placement, industries, regions, languages, restrictions, exclusivity, and duration. (Source: Picture Licensing Glossary)
The glossary has 20 definitions that will help you feel more prepared to manage your visual content and ask the right questions. As a marketer who shares images with your audience constantly, it’s your job to understand these concepts and ensure your company never faces a pricey penalty.