Image Licensing Explained: Secure Your Rights with Licensed Photos Now!

Amos Struck Amos Struck
March 18, 2023

Navigating the world of image licensing can be daunting, but having access to the right information makes all the difference. In this informative article, we'll guide you through the various types of image licensing, helping you gain a thorough understanding of the licensing process. By the end, you'll be equipped with the knowledge you need to confidently license images and you will understand the benefits.

Learn about the different types of licenses.

Image licensing refers to the legal terms and conditions under which you can use a specific photo. When you purchase a photo from a stock agency, you are actually buying a license to use that photo, not the photo itself. This means that the photographer or image creator retains the copyright protection to the image, and you are granted certain rights to use it under the terms of the agency.

Types of Image Licenses

There are several types of image licenses available from agencies, including Shutterstock, iStock, and Adobe Stock. Some of the most common license types are:

Royalty-Free (RF)

A Royalty-Free license allows you to use the photo multiple times, for various purposes, without having to pay additional fees. This type is popular because it is relatively affordable and offers a great deal of flexibility when using stock photography.

Rights-Managed (RM)

Rights-Managed licenses grant you the right to use the photo for a specific purpose, time frame, and geographic location. It's more restrictive and often more expensive than Royalty-Free one, but they may offer exclusivity, ensuring that the image is not used by others for similar purposes.

Editorial Use

Editorial Use licenses are intended for use in news articles, blogs, and other non-commercial, informational content. These photos often feature recognizable people or brands and cannot be used for commercial purposes or advertising.

Extended or Enhanced Licenses

Extended or Enhanced licenses grant additional rights beyond the standard Royalty-Free or Rights-Managed ones. This may include allowing the use of the photo on physical products for resale or in larger print runs. Go check out this expert guide from Ivanna Attie on about Standard License vs. Extended License.

Creative Commons Licensing

Creative Commons is another type of usage that allows for more flexible use of photos. This type of usage is often used by photographers who want to share their work with others but still maintain some power over how it is used. Creative Commons licensing typically allow for free use of the photo for non-commercial purposes but may require attribution or prohibit modifications to the photo. There are different levels of Creative Commons licensing in use, each with its own set of restrictions and permissions.

Restrictions and Considerations

Understand how to license images and what it entails.

Licensing images is about getting permission to use someone else's picture in your project. When you get a license, you agree to follow certain rules about how you can use the image. It's important to understand these rules so you don't get into trouble for using the picture in the wrong way. By learning about the different types of licenses and what each one allows you to do, you can choose the right one for your needs and use images in your projects without any problems.

Common restrictions to be aware of include:

  • Number of users: Some may limit the number of users within an organization who can access and use the image. Usually, it is 1 user, or some like give you 5 users included in their price.
  • Print run limits: Royalty-Free licenses often have restrictions on the number of copies that can be printed or distributed. A general number is a print run of 500,000.
  • Exclusivity: If you require exclusive use of an image, you may need to purchase an exclusive Rights-Managed contract or a similar option. Only very few agencies offer this option.
  • Sensitive use: Licenses may prohibit the use of an image in connection with sensitive subjects or controversial topics.
  • Modification: Some agencies may restrict how much an image can be altered or modified.

Choosing the Right License for Your Project

To select the appropriate license for your project, consider the following factors:

Purpose: Determine the primary purpose of your project and how the image will be used. For example, if you need royalty-free images for a commercial, a Royalty-Free or Rights-Managed license may be appropriate. If you're writing a news article or blog post, an Editorial Use license may be sufficient. Advertisement, a Royalty-Free or Rights-Managed license may be appropriate.

  • Budget: Consider your budget and the cost of the license. Royalty-Free licenses tend to be more affordable, while Rights-Managed and exclusive licenses can be more expensive. I recommend checking out our cheap stock photo subscription here..
  • Exclusivity: If you need to ensure that the image is not used by others in a similar context, consider purchasing an exclusive license or searching for a stock agency that offers exclusive photos.
  • Distribution: Consider the scale of your project and the potential reach of the image. Larger print runs or broader distribution may require an Extended or Enhanced license. A User-Friendly Stock Agency is a new stock agency that aims to simplify the process. They offer easy-to-understand image licenses at fair prices, making it a great option for those who may be new to stock photography or overwhelmed by complex licensing contracts. Some of the benefits of using include:

  • Straightforward terms that are easy to understand and follow.
  • Competitive pricing ensures that you get high-quality images at a fair cost.
  • A diverse and extensive collection of images

By choosing for your stock image needs, you can save time and effort navigating complex licensing agreements and focus on finding the perfect images for your projects.

Best Practices – Navigating Regulations

Now that we have covered the basics of usage regulations let's discuss some best practices to help you make the most of your efforts while minimizing potential risks.

  1. Conduct thorough research: Before using an image, ensure you have the necessary rights to do so. Research the copyright status and the agreements of any applicable licenses. If you can't find this information, consider reaching out to the copyright holder for permission.
  2. Keep detailed records: Maintain a record of the images you have licensed and maybe a copy of their agreement. This will help you stay organized and avoid potential legal issues down the line.
  3. Understand the purpose of usage: Different licensing agreements have varying restrictions on usage. Be clear about your intended use of the image to ensure compliance with the agreement. For example, if you need an image for commercial purposes, make sure you have the appropriate license.
  4. Monitor image usage: Regularly review how the images you have licensed are being used to ensure compliance with the agreement. This is particularly important if you have a team responsible for image selection and placement.
  5. Beware of ‘free' images: Be cautious when using images found on the internet that are labeled as ‘free.' These images may still be subject to copyright protection, and using them without permission could result in legal consequences.
  6. Credit the creator: When required by the licensing agreement, provide proper attribution to the image creator. This not only ensures compliance with the agreement but also shows respect for the work of the creator.
  7. Educate your team: Make sure everyone in your organization who deals with images understands the importance of the agreements and is familiar with the basic principles and best practices. This will minimize the risk of legal issues arising from improper use.
  8. Be prepared for changes: Licensing agreements may change over time, and images that were previously available for use may no longer be accessible. Stay informed about any changes in terms of the licenses you hold, and be prepared to replace images if necessary.
  9. Use reputable sources: When obtaining images for use, consider using reputable stock photography websites like or directly contacting the creators (which is a lot more complex).
  10. Seek legal advice when needed: If you are unsure about any aspect of it or are faced with a complex situation, consider seeking legal advice. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the intricacies of the agreements and contracts and protect your interests.

By following these best practices, you can minimize the risks associated with the downloading and using of photos and ensure that your organization remains compliant with the relevant regulations. A proactive and informed approach to it will enable you to make the most of the images you use while respecting the rights of creators.

Understanding photo licensing is crucial when using stock photos in your projects. By familiarizing yourself with the different types of licenses, their restrictions, and how to select the appropriate license for your project, you can ensure that you are using images legally and appropriately. is an excellent resource for those looking for user-friendly options and a diverse selection of high-quality, royalty-free images. By considering the purpose, budget, exclusivity, and distribution of your project, you can confidently select the right license and make the most of your stock photography experience.

Frequently Asked Questions about Licensing (FAQ)

Can I use a stock photo for multiple projects?

With a Royalty-Free license, you can typically use the image in multiple projects without having to pay for an additional license. However, always check the specific terms of the license, as some agencies may have restrictions on usage.

Can I share a licensed image with my colleagues or clients?

Sharing a licensed image may depend on the terms of the license. Some licenses may allow you to share the image with colleagues or clients working on the same project, while others may restrict sharing. Be sure to check the licensing agreement before sharing any images. allows the central storage and the sharing between colleagues within the same company.

Can I edit or modify a stock image?

Most licenses, including Royalty-Free and Rights-Managed, allow for the editing and modification of images, as long as the changes do not violate any restrictions stated in the licensing agreement. For example, you may not be allowed to modify an image in a way that would defame or misrepresent the subject.

How long does an image license last?

The duration of an image license can vary depending on the type of license and the stock agency's terms. Royalty-Free licenses often grant usage rights for an indefinite period, while Rights-Managed licenses are usually limited to a specific timeframe.

Can I resell a licensed stock image?

Reselling a licensed stock image is generally not allowed under most licensing agreements. Stock images are typically licensed for use in specific projects and cannot be sold as standalone products or included in products for resale without obtaining the appropriate license.

Final Thoughts

Navigating the world of licensing can be complex, but having a solid understanding of the various types of licenses, their restrictions, and the importance of copyright protection can help you make informed decisions when using stock photos. By considering the needs of your project and utilizing user-friendly stock agencies like, you can efficiently and legally source the perfect images for your creative work, including a variety of royalty-free images and options with creative commons licensing.

Amos Struck
  • Amos Struck

I am the co-founder and editor of and its Blog and other magazines of Stock Photo Press such as I am an entrepreneur with a long history in the stock photo industry and have also created events such as the Microstock Expo. My expertise in the stock photo industry and my knowledge of AI make me a valuable asset to the world of stock photography. I have also developed several AI-based services, including an AI Image Upscaler, which enhances the quality of photos. My newest venture is an AI Magazine called

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