The Comercial Royalty Free vs the Editorial license
The two most important licenses you will come across in stock photography are the Comercial Royalty Free license, simply referred to as RF license, and the Editorial license.
So, let’s find out what each of them means and when you should choose to upload your images for sale with one or the other.
Commercial Royalty Free license
It offers the right to use an image by paying for it only once and not having to pay additional fees for each time it will be used, or for each period of time of usage. Once the image is payed for and downloaded it can be used indefinitely and without additional price as many times as desired.
Some rules still need to be respected, of course. The image in case can not be resold or used in calendars, mugs, posters, t-shirts or other such items but it can be turned into a fine art print. The image can be used as a book cover, or to illustrate articles in magazines (and other such non essential manner usage) as long as the number of copies does not exceed 500,000.
All images that are free of copyright and have a model release attached (where the case) will be submitted for sale with this license.
For other usages, like print for sale or increased number of copies there are extended licenses available at most stock photography sites. These pay better than the royalty free license but are less popular because they are pretty specific. I won’t go into details now as there are many things you need to learn and this would only clutter your mind for the time being.
You will upload in this section all images that contain copyright that can not be removed, people that you can not obtain a model release for, public events, some travel images.
Here is a list of subjects that fit in the editorial category and that you will not be able to sell in the commercial section:
- concert images
- copyrighted architecture
- sporting events
- public and political events
- news images – you should submit these as soon as you reach a computer so that they receive maximum exposure
- travel images that are shot in public places, at landmarks, where you can not remove the crowds of people from the photos
- street photography that has cultural or ethnic significance
- images shot in museums that show a general view of the museum
- images shot inside stores and malls
What does not qualify in this section:
- general images of people with no cultural feeling (this includes family and friends images)
- portraits that you don’t have a model release for, unless it’s a public person, in which case, go for it
- general landscapes in which you happen to have tinny people walking around in the distance (remove them from the image in post processing)
- images of artworks, logos, one brand products – they are too specific and can still be copyright even as editorial so, unless you have a property release, they can not be sold.
So, now you have a general idea of what is commercial and what is not and you are ready to choose your future portfolio from your database of images. Check out my next post for some tips on what you should select and what should be left behind.