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RIGHTS FREESelecting an appropriate stock image for your blog, marketing collateral or advertising material should be a simple and inexpensive task – however, there is one major landmine you need to consider before buying the first image you see.

Image licensing adds another layer of complexity to the selection of a picture, making it a potentially time consuming and pricey task without first knowing the difference between rights managed and royalty free images.

What is the difference? Rights managed vs royalty free images.

Rights managed and royalty free are the two most common licensing models in stock photography. There is a significant difference between the two, which is important to understand to ensure you are choosing the right license to suit your needs.

For small businesses trying to engage customers and prospects through blogs and content, images are a crucial element that can’t afford to be ignored. If the image is relevant, it will add richness to your content and better engage readers.

So what does each term mean?

Rights managed images require a onetime charge only; however this does mean that you can only use the image once. Rights managed images also allows you to purchase the image with either an exclusive or non-exclusive copyright agreement. However, if the purchaser wishes to use the image for multiple projects, the image will need to be re-licensed. For example, if you use a rights managed image for your business cards, but want to also use it for your corporate brochure, a new licensing agreement will be required to outline the details of the use of the image for the brochure.

Royalty free images are often misinterpreted as free images, which is not the case. Royalty free allows the purchaser to use the image multiple times, for multiple uses and with very few restrictions. For example, you could use the same image on your business cards, corporate brochure, website and banner, without facing any additional charges.

Weighing it up – the pros & cons

The biggest pro of rights managed stock, is the assurance of high quality images. Rights managed stock offers a much wider variety of images, meaning that you are not obligated to filter through pages of poor quality images in order to get to the better quality ones. Rights managed stock also has tracking, which protects the purchaser from re-use and lets them know ahead of time if there is any conflict or concern. Rights managed stock is generally more expensive and while the quality is higher, overall there is a smaller selection to choose from.

A significant pro when using royalty free images is that there is only one, fixed cost, which allows unlimited use of the image. The price of the image varies depending on image size required, meaning web images that are 72dpi will cost less when compared to larger print images of 300dpi. However, due to the non-exclusivity of royalty free images, chances are your content won’t be the only one with that image. Images that are newly released, or that are particularly popular, can tend to oversaturate the market.

Which one should I use?

Depending on what you intend to use the image for, will help determine your licensing selection. If it is for personal use (i.e. an invitation, family blog), then a royalty free image would be the best choice for you. However, if you are going to be using the image as a part of your branding, to build your company image, a rights managed image would be best, to ensure no other company uses the same image and detracts from your brand.

By understanding the difference between these two licensing models, you will be better able to make an informed decision as to which option is best for you. When you purchase from an online stock photography site, you have both options available to you, allowing you to pick the most appropriate option to suit your needs. You may pay more to use a rights managed image, however depending on the situation, the extra money may be worth insuring exclusivity of the image and covering yourself against any legal issues.

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