What Does Royalty Free Mean?

What does royalty free mean? If you are in the stock photo industry or any other field, you should know and understand its significance. In photography and illustration industry, it refers to a copyright license. It allows the buyer to use the images and illustrations in any project for as long as he likes. It has few restrictions and is based on a one-time payment.

In contrast to rights managed, royalty free has a flat rate. It provides perpetual usage rights with no restrictions on duration of use, region, image size and more. This type of licensing became very popular due to the rise of digital image distribution. Today, most stock images are licensed as royalty-free as they offer buyers with more flexibility and affordability that its rights managed counterpart.

Some of the popular stock sites that offer royalty-free license includes:

  • Shutterstock
  • Getty Images
  • iStock
  • Depositphotos
  • 99 Club
  • Adobe Stock

Are royalty free images for free? The answer is no. They are licensed for a flat price as determined by the stock agency selling them. Royalty free simply means you are free from paying royalties to the owner of the stock asset. The creator maintains all the rights to the copyright unless specifically extended by the license agreement.

You can use royalty free images in many ways, including:

  • Websites and web ads
  • Online marketing campaigns
  • Print ads and promotional content
  • In covers of books, CDs, e-books and in editorial content
  • As part of creative projects
  • Website templates
  • Multimedia productions
  • In-house designs and print banners
  • Products that you will resell

This list is just general information. You still need to carefully read and understand the license terms and conditions of the agency you are purchasing the stock images from. Each stock agency has unique restrictions and conditions in terms of the use of royalty-free images. To avoid copyright issues down the road, be sure to adhere to their guidelines.