License stock images how-to, royalty-free images

License stock images

Quick information regarding image copyright rules and how to license stock images. Here you have some of the basics you need to know about stock images.

If you have a question that isn’t described below, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Stock images licensing Q&A

license stock images

Types of imagery

Q: What are the different types of stock images?
A: First of all, there are two main types: royalty-free and rights managed.
For royalty-free images, you get almost unlimited use. You can use the image in almost all application, for as long as you like. Also in as many different projects as you like, as long as you comply with the terms of the license agreement. The image is available to use with no extra royalty payments .
With rights managed restriction apply to your right to use the image. There are limitations on things such as:
  • duration of use
  • geographic region
  • industry
  • other terms from the license agreement
Q: Can I use royalty-free images for free?
A: No. Royalty-free means that once you paid a license fee, there aren't any extra fees. However the initial license is necessary to protect yourself and your clients. The cost is often based on file size, the number of permitted users as well as other factors.
Some kinds of uses do require an extended license.
Q: Is this site about images used for commercial purposes?
A: Yes, focuses on stock images that purposed for commercial use.


Q: What is copyright?

A: Copyright is a form of protection provided by the law to the authors of “original works of authorship.” Works are protected in all 160 countries that are party to the "Bern Convention", as well as various other laws such as the US copyright act. This applies to all images. From the time it is created, a photo or other image is automatically protected by copyright therefore it requires the user to license stock images.

license stock images
Q: Why should I worry about copyright infringement?
A: Infringement of copyright may result in monetary damages. Also lawsuits, legal fees and under some rare circumstances, criminal charges.
Q: I’m using an image I found through Google search. If it’s on the internet, doesn’t mean it’s free?
A: No. The fact that an image is online or “in the public domain” won't make it automatically free for any usage. The correct license is required to legally use it.
Q: Someone else created my website. Am I liable if the images are not licensed correctly?
A: You are responsible for ensuring that you have licensed the images used on your project. Even if a third-party designer, contractor designed and developed your company’s website. If no valid licenses exist the liability of any infringement may fall on the the end client, who used the image.

Examples of infringement

Q: What is copyright infringement?

A: Examples of imagery infringement may include:

  • Use of whole or part of an image without permission
  • Use beyond the scope of a license or permission
  • Adapting an image without permission (art rendering)
  • Asking another photographer to identically recreate the image

Q: Who’s responsible when infringement occurs?

A: Responsible parties may include:

  • The party that infringed 
  • Employees or others who participated in the original infringement
  • Anyone who published the infringing image, whether they had knowledge or not
  • Anyone who authorized or encouraged infringement
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More questions

Q: If someone else built my website, how will I know when the licenses will expire?

A: Your designer or image provider won't always contact you about an expiring license. If the license to the image expires (in case of right managed images), the imagery provider may send a renewal notice to the purchaser of the license. So your designer may receive this notice if they licensed it on your behalf.

Best practice is to get invoice numbers or sales order numbers for the images on the website.Your imagery provider would be able to confirm if the license is correct. Also keep all your licenses organized so that you know the expiration dates of each license and the granted rights.

Q: My site is non-commercial, I’m just a blogger. Can I use images for free?

A: No. All the images on your website must be properly licensed, unless your use is specifically permitted by copyright law. Also you can easily license, inexpensive images  that are perfect for web use and will be properly licensed.

Q: Can I be sure I’ve taken the appropriate steps in licensing an image?

A: There are various places on the internet that you can search for more in-depth information. This website will give you a basic understanding of the potential risks you need to take into consideration. However you should consult with your legal counsel if you have specific questions. Please also see our Articles section for more details and also take a look at our ‘to do check list’ article.

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