Understanding the Rights Managed Stock Photos

Royalty-free images are simple. They can be used in any creative project for as long as you like, with some restrictions of course. On the other hand, rights managed stock photo are an entirely new type of license. With this license, you only pay for what you are using the images for. Thus, you need to define how you will use the image, where and when you will use it, and for how long you are going to use it. One is not better than the other. You just choose the license that best fits your creative needs.

Can royalty-free images be licensed as rights managed? The answer is no. This might be a no-brainer, but let us talk it through so you will truly understand the nature of rights managed stock photos.

When you buy a rights managed image, you have expectations on exclusive rights (or non-exclusive depending on your requirements). Let’s say, for instance, you purchased the exclusive rights of an image for one year in South America. This means you will be the only one with those rights for that period of time in that duration. After all, you are paying for a higher price. It is only right that the image you bought has been used a lot less if not exclusively by you.

The idea behind buying rights managed stock photos is to minimize if not eliminate conflict with another company’s usage, especially your competitors.

Why should you choose rights managed over royalty-free?

At first glance, royalty-free might appear to offer the better value for your money. So, why would you consider buying rights managed stock photos? There are actually a number of good reasons to choose RM images. Too often, many of them are overlooked by buyers. These include:

  • Rights managed stock images offer a wider range of topics.
  • They continue to be the industry norm.
  • The provide protection from reuse of the same image.
  • They are sold by top photographers in the market.
  • They have high quality stock photos.
  • They protect the buyer.
  • They are cheaper compared to commissioned work.
  • They eliminate opportunities for imitation.
  • They are NOT ALWAYS more expensive.
  • They weed out inferior images.
  • They allow you to purchase exclusive use licenses.

Stock photography continues to grow with both royalty-free and rights managed holding their places in the field. There is no wrong choice between these two types of licenses. You can always choose whichever suits you creative needs and budget. However, rights managed photos provide a certain level of protection for both you and the photographer – something that you can never have with royalty-free. Although they are usually more expensive, they certainly have their value. In certain cases, it is the best choice to ensure the success of your creative projects.