Image Rights Explained
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Have you ever needed an image for your website or newsletter, search Google and used what you liked? Well if you did, you probably violated someone’s copyright. Images are so easily searched and accessed on the internet that it seems like they are just free for the taking. But this could not be further from the truth, and making this mistake could cost you.
In this two part series, I am going to explain image rights and how they work and where to go for paid and free images. So in this first part, lets take a look at what image licenses are and how they work.
Wikipedia explains copyright like this:
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time. Generally, it is “the right to copy”, but also gives the copyright holder the right to be credited for the work, to determine who may adapt the work to other forms, who may perform the work, who may financially benefit from it, and other related rights. It is an intellectual property form (like the patent, the trademark, and the trade secret) applicable to any expressible form of an idea or information that is substantive and discrete.
If you are using images on your blog, website, or products that you did not create then you need to observe the license to keep yourself out of trouble. Its also the right thing to do. Let me briefly explain the different types of licenses you should be aware of.
Royalty Free licenses came about to address the need of people running ad campaigns that where not only on going but had different components to them, like websites, brochures, flyers, billboards, etc. In large campaigns it becomes almost cost prohibitive to have to pay a royalty every time an image is used so the royalty free license is similar to the software site license, where you pay once and you may use it as many times as you like or need.
The royalty free model is usually based on image size. The larger the image, the more your would expect to pay because that larger an image is the more things you can do with it. You couldn’t, for example, place a 640 x 480 at 72 DPI image on a billboard. It would look like a big blurry mess. So remember, the higher the resolution the more you will pay.
Rights Managed license is the most restrictive license. It used to be that photographers would have catalogs of their photos and complicated price calculations base on the images use. Generally a buyer would pay less for an image used for editorial use and much more for images for use in print advertisements.
Because of the internet, the people over at Getty Images created the name Rights Managed (RM) out of necessity and it quickly became the standard in the industry. As a result, pricing calculations have become simpler a little easier to understand.
Exclusive and Non-Exclusive
Exclusive and Non-exclusive are not really rights but more of extensions to the Rights Managed License. Granting exclusive rights to an image is pretty rare but there are times when a company wants an image that matches their brand so well that they will be willing to pay for it. Exclusive rights may have limitations like region, time, and use associated with them as well.
There is an industry that thrives on exclusive rights. Can you say paparazzi? This is their bread and butter. Having the only picture of a hot celebrity’s newborn baby can garner a pretty high price and tabloid outfits will pay for the exclusive rights to images that no one else has.
Creative Commons rights are a new way of thinking about copyright. a CC license allows the copyright holder much more flexibility on how he may distribute and share his work without losing his right to his work. For instance, I do a little photography and I want to be able to put my images out on the web for people to use for free if they are a non profit or educational institution but not for commercial use. Or maybe I would like to allow anybody to use one of my images for any purpose including commercial as long as they attribute the image back to me. This can actually be a great marking tool for a photographer or artist. When you come across a work that has a Creative Commons License you will see a little image. The image will usually link back and explain the specific right to that work. The following is taken directly from the Creative Commons website. Who better to explain it than the people who created it
Attribution – CC BY
This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.
Attribution-ShareAlike – CC BY-SA
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.
Attribution-NoDerivs – CC BY-ND
This license allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.
Attribution-NonCommercial – CC BY-NC
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike – CC BY-NC-SA
This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs – CC BY-NC-ND
This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.
Public Domain works are those for which the IP (intellectual property) rights have run out (expired), have been given up, or just don’t apply. Examples are old silent films, music of Beethoven, or the writings of Shakespeare. If a work is in the public domain you are free to use it without attribution as well as make changes. Basically anything in the public domain is owned by no one
So there you have it, image rights explained. Next time I will go through my list of the best places to find images on the net free and paid.
If you like this article or have some experience with image rights, please leave a comment. I would love to hear what you have to say.
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