Photos. We all use them to express our story or give an explanation. With the internet, we have access to one of the greatest pictures you would ever find. More established and up and coming photographers, video makers and graphic artists are publishing their work through their own channels. But where do we actually draw the line in what’s okay to use on your website?
What are stock photos?
Stock photos (or stock photography) is a supply of photographs which are licensed. You might have heard from brands such as Getty Images or Shutterstock. You might wonder often times why would people buy photos from those websites rather than picking them up from Google. This is mainly because there are regulations regarding taking these stock photos from Google. Each photo that has been taken (including your own) has their rights to it. Compare this is something you build at home, let’s say a bench. This bench has your ownership when somebody comes into your yard and takes away your bench its classified as stolen. With the digital age, it is often times that the lines between are blurred.
When you decide to buy stock photos there are three kinds of models in this branch:
- Macrostock: These are high priced and exclusive stock photography, it is also known as traditional stock photography
- Midstock: As the name says it, not very expensive but not cheap either. These photos are often being bought to be used in an online environment. Think like a blog that wants to express a warm country or show a feel and look of an interior of a house.
- Microstock: Low price and inclusive stock photos. This is a relatively new model which are usually available through agencies that sell images for a low price but in a greater volume.
If I use a licensed stock photo how do they see it?
Most agencies either have an image recognition software or let their employees scour the internet for unwarranted use of images. What the software actually does is crawling the internet and every internet page to look for pictures that have been posted on a website with a license. It basically reports back to the agency in which the agency sends you an email or letter with a warning.
So, if I buy a stock photo I am free to use it anywhere?
This is not always the case. Read their license information on their website. Usually, there are two kinds of paid licenses, standard and extended. In the standard license its usually basic use of the image. You can use the image in your content that is being distributed through or as a commercial, marketing efforts, apps, websites, social media, tv and movies, presentations, product packages, newspapers and books.
When is it necessary to buy an extended license?
If you are planning to use the image over more than 500.000 printed designs, psychical products, files (in which multiple team members have access) and digital templates that are intended for resale. There are separate rules for each agency, it is highly recommended to read through their license before you decide to purchase the license for the pictures.
Okay, so once I buy these pictures I can use them everywhere I want right?
Unfortunately, there are some restrictions. It is commonly known that a lot of pictures are not allowed to be used as a logo or in your branding, in a pornographic, obscene or slanderous way
What kind of licenses exist for stock photos?
For stock photos, there are three kinds of licenses Public domain, royalty free and rights managed.
- Public Domain: This is also known as Creative Commons CC0. What this means is that the photo is free to use for commercial or personal use free of charge. No purchases are necessary. Public domain usually means that those exclusive intellectual property rights have expired, forfeited or inapplicable.
Note: Some images or videos may have additional copyrights, property rights, trademarks etc. It may require the consent of a third party or the license of these rights.
- Royalty free: This usually refers to a copyright license where the user can use the image as many times he or she wants. After a one-time payment to the licensor, the user is free to use the image in his or her projects without having to pay for additional licenses. It must be noted that RF licenses generally can’t be given on an exclusive basis.
- Rights managed: Rights managed (RM) refers to a copyright license in which a user can only use the picture once. If the user wants to use the picture again it has to buy the license again. RM licenses can be given on an exclusive or non-exclusive base.
Can I use stock photos for clients which I have the license for?
This easily depends on the license agreement. The general rule is that you are not allowed to give permission, lend or resell your royalty stock photos that you have purchased or downloaded. However, you can use these in one of your clients’ designs or one of your own. But if they want to start distributing or use the stock photo they have to make a separate account and download or purchase the license for themselves.
What if I don’t have any money to spend on stock photos?
You are always allowed to use your own photos on let’s say your iPhone. However, the quality wouldn’t be as good as a professional photographer. The photographer has a certain work method and style in which he or she takes photos. After the photos these photographers take it back to their studios to edit to images to their liking.
So I where can I find Public domain pictures?
In Google Images there is a button in which you can sort through pictures you can use freely without any attribution. Other websites that have beautiful stock photos are:
These great resources were brought to you by Michael Vuong.
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