At lot of creative planning and thought goes into developing a newsletter, brochure, ad, or other marketing collateral. You and/or your designer probably spend a considerable amount of time selecting the perfect visuals for your work, which almost always involves “buying” photos.
First, let’s be clear that when you purchase a photo from a photographer, you’re actually “licensing” it for use within specific parameters, unless you buy its copyright. When negotiating with a photographer, it’s important to accurately disclose how you will be using the photo to avoid paying for usage rights that you’ll never use.
Here are some general usage terms to cover:
Market Categories: How will you use the photo?
• Editorial use includes using the photo for educational or journalistic purposes, such as newspaper or magazine articles.
• Commercial use involves using the photos to sell or promote a product or service, and is the most expensive category. However, if you are using the photo for promotional efforts, but not in a print or digital ad or billboard, you can normally fine tune your needs and lower the cost.
• Retail use refers to photos that are purchased or commissioned for personal use, such as family portraits, weddings, etc.
Usage Rights: How many times and in how many ways will you be using the image?
• Limited: If you plan on using the photo in one brochure and printing a specific quantity, then you probably only need to purchase limited rights.
• Unlimited: Unlimited usage rights grant you the ability to use the photo an unlimited number of times for the uses that you’ve negotiated with the copyright owner. However, unlimited usage rights do not give you the ability to transfer rights to a third party for their use.
• Copyright: If you want to own the photo and do whatever you want with it, then you can purchase its copyright for a hefty fee.
Exclusivity: Do you want others to be able to use the same photo?
• Non-Exclusive rights mean that a photo can be licensed to other people or companies at any time.
• Exclusive-to-Industry rights mean that a photo cannot be licensed to anyone else within the same industry.
• Exclusive rights mean that a photo cannot be licensed to anyone else during the length of your license.
Time Period: How long will you be using the photo? Licensing agreements typically last for one year unless otherwise specified.
Geographic Region: Will the image be used within your company, city, state, nationally, or internationally? As the audience size increases, so does the licensing cost.
Lastly, remember that images—like music—are intellectual property, and any image seen in print or on the Internet is protected by U.S. copyright law, with or without a copyright notice. This means that images found through a Google search cannot be legally used without purchasing usage rights or acquiring permission from the owner—no matter how harmless your blog or tweet may seem.
In future blogs, we’ll take a look at stock photos and where to find images covered by a Creative Commons license.
Questions? Leave them in the comment section.