POCImages.ca is a Royalty Free Stock Photo agency.

What are Royalty-Free Stocks?

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Royalty-Free (RE) is a license type that grants the buyer a determined set of rights to use the image in multiple ways, for a flat, one-time fee.

This means you pay for the license only once, and you can use it forever within the accepted ways, without any further payment obligations.

Basically, to work with stock photos is that you are acquiring the right to use a photo in a certain way, not the property of the photo itself.

The photographer who created the photo is still the owner of the photo. He/she holds the copyright, the official term pointing the ownership of photos, music, paintings, texts, and other intellectual physical or non-physical creations. Retaining copyright is what allows photographers and artists from other disciplines to sell their work multiple times and generate more income. These photos are NOT copyright free or free images at all.

So, Stock agencies like us, POCimages.com sell licenses that give you the buyers the rights to use the photos, but we do not transfer the copyright, and/or the ownership of the images.

Photographer and agency split the profit from the license sold. With some licenses, the customer must pay royalties to the copyright owner, the agency, or both, every time they use the photo. With Royalty Free, this doesn’t happen. Buyer pays only once for a varied set of rights, and that’s it.

Now that we defined that Royalty-Free (RF) images are not free, it’s important to note the most remarkable rights and restrictions that apply to them.

• Non-transferable – The license is entitled to the buyer, and to the buyer only. When you buy an RF image you are not allowed to share it, resell it nor gift it to anyone else. Nobody else can use this image legally, only the person who purchased the license.

• Non-exclusive – Any RF image may be used by as many people who acquire a license to use them. They are not licensed exclusively to you nor to any other buyer. If you need to have exclusive rights to use a stock photo, you will need a different license type. You might notice that at times stock agencies advertise to have “exclusive Royalty Free images”, but this means the photos are exclusive to that agency, not to the buyers: you may only find these photos in their library and nowhere else, but they are still available to as many people who want to pay for a license.

• Perpetual – Once you’ve purchased a license, you can use the RF image for as long as you wish. There is no time limitation associated with usage of a royalty-free image unless it’s specified by the agency who licenses it.

• Worldwide – RF license lets you use the image anywhere in the world, there is no geographic limitation associated with usage of royalty-free photos unless it’s specified by the agency who licenses it.

• Multiple-use – RF license lets you use the image in a wide range of usages. It can be physical (prints) or digital uses, and with multiple distribution methods. There are, however, restrictions to the use of RF images (see below).

Royalty-Free images are licensed in two different types that define the usage: Commercial and Editorial.

• Editorial RF licenses are more restrictive than commercial ones. While still meaning you only pay for the license once and you get to use it forever, the accepted uses are for editorial purposes only. You can use Editorial RF images to enhance or illustrate the text in print or digital publications (to accompany articles, as part of graphics within the text, etc.). Any commercial or for-profit usage is prohibited. Most agencies also limit the distribution allowance. In present-day most of them put the reproduction/print run limit at 500,000, but others put it at 250,000 copies.

• Commercial RF licenses are very wide in their accepted uses. You can use RF images in practically any commercial purpose you want, both physical and print: marketing and advertising, websites, graphic designs, in-house designs, and more. However, distribution limits still apply. Most agencies restrict the reproduction/print run, most of them now place that limit in 500,000 copies, but some others allow only 250,000. For tv, film and other multimedia uses, they tend to restrict the usage to the budget of the project

• You may also use stock photos in templates and web templates, book and ebook covers, and all kinds of products for resale (t-shirts, packaging, etc.), but this is not permitted with a Standard RF license. If you want to use the photo in any of the latter ways, you will need an Extended license.

• Extended RF licenses give you extra rights that dilute limitations of Standard licenses. With an Extended license, you get unlimited reproduction/print run, no restrictions to use in multimedia distribution, and rights to use photos in products for resale. In the case of Editorial RF images, the only extra rights are the ones related to distribution (but restriction to editorial use only still applies).