Terms Used in the Stock Photography Businessby Kelly Paal
o you are a small business person or web designer and you want to purchase some stock photography for your website. Great. Photography is a wonderful way to improve the emotional impact of your site. But there are a few terms unique to the stock photography business that you should know.
Royalty Free - you'll see this term often. What it means is that you pay a one time fee for an image and you can use it for as many times as you want for as long as you wish. It is a great way to get inexpensive photos. Now if you are concerned that your competitor would or could use the same image as you, photographers and agencies can continue to sell the image after you purchase it, then you need:
Rights Managed - this one is next term you'll see. This means that you pay a fee for the image based on how, where, how long, and how many people will see the image. This one will cost you a lot more in most cases. This is worth it if you do not want your competitor using the same image for the same purpose. Usually the stock agency or photographer also agree not to sell the image to others in your field for the time that you are using the image. So you can see why this option protects your use of the image but you'll also pay much more for this protection. Remember too that, at some point, you decided to discontinue using/paying for the image the agency or photographer can then sell the image to someone else, even someone in your field.
Flat Rate - this term isn't quite at common but it is similar to royalty free. Usually this means that you pay a one time fee for an image, but it can only be used for one purpose by one person. Pricing will be higher than royalty free but less than rights managed.
Copyright - even with royalty free you are still only purchasing the right to use an image not the image itself. All images are property of the agency or photographer who owns them. How do you know who owns them, there is usually a © symbol with date and name of the person or agency who owns the image. No matter what you paid for the image you are NOT the owner of the image. This means you cannot remove the copyright information, alter the photo, use it as part of a logo that you own a copyright, or resale the image as your own.
These terms will get you started but remember there can be differences in these definitions from agency to agency and photographer to photographer. Every agency and photographer selling stock images should have a legal or license page to explain these terms and any others that they use, if they don't you may want to move onto another site. Be aware, read all the information, and know what you are buying.