Basic Stock Photography Licensing


The main stock licensing models used today are ‘royalty-free’ and ‘rights-managed’. As a photographer entering the stock photography industry, it is important to know the difference between these two main licensing models.

Royalty Free

This is the most common form of purchased stock photography today. The same image is downloaded multiple times by different buyers, using the exact same image for multiple purposes. The granted amount of licences are unlimited, and the more often a image is downloaded, the higher it comes up in potential buyer’s search results. Pricing of these licences are usually determined by size and the buyer’s type of subscription.

Standard vs. Enhanced

Within royalty free, different use is often allowed determining on the licensing subscription. At shutterstock, images that are purchased via monthly subscriptions or on-demand allow the buyer to make up to 500.000 physical reproductions, such as books, magazines, advertising posters, and packaging. While those that purchased enhanced licences have no such restrictions. Those purchasing enhanced licences also receive unlimited use the image in web and print templates. They can also print the image on merchandising.

Rights Managed

These licences are a step up from enhanced royalty free licences, granting specific usage rights for an image exclusively, for example on an artist album cover. The price is often based on use, such as territory, medium and duration. Larger companies would in general pay more, compared to smaller companies.

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