One way that photographers share their work with the world is through stock photography. The average person may wonder what exactly stock photography is. Stock photography is when photographs are shared with licensing attached.
Anyone can use it, but in order to do that, understanding of all the legal aspects is critical in order to avoid being sued.
Stock photography has been around for a long time. According to wikipedia.org, H. Armstrong Roberts started the first agency for this type of photography in 1920, and the company is still going strong today under the name RobertStock. For years, photography stock was composed of “outtakes (“seconds”) from commercial magazine assignments.”
But, in the eighties, it had become unique, and photographers began making photographs just for photo sharing. Today several online photography stock houses exist, but before being used, the legal terms and aspects must be completely understood in order to avoid being sued.
One type of stock photography is royalty-free. This does not mean that the photograph can be used for free. What royalty-free means is that in order to use a specific picture, a photo buyer pays a one time fee to use the picture many times for a multitude of purposes within certain guidelines. Usually a time limit does not exist as to when the image can be used.
However, a royalty-free image does have a limit on exactly how many times the photograph can be reproduced. All of these restrictions will depend exactly on the contract that is decided upon.
One thing to consider with stock photography regarding royalty-free is that exclusive rights are non-existent. If a publication wants to be unique from the others, than royalty-free images are not the way to go. The best bet for uniqueness is to have an photographer on staff.
Stock photography has another kind called rights-managed that is sometimes difficult to understand. Rights-managed photography stock is when an image is negotiated exclusively for a certain allotted time frame.
During this time frame, no one else will be able to use that particular image for any reason. How long that this will go on will depend on the contract negotiations that are made for the image.
Because of online photography sharing, it has become readily accessible for all to use. Some agencies allow for images to be used for free, and others are based on contracts for their photography gallery.
Photojournalism uses it regularly, but the in’s and outs of the business must be fully understood to take advantage of all of the images that are flooding the market.
Whether or not to use rights-managed or royalty-free images will depend on what can be negotiated within a contract, and the legalities can get sticky.
Before using stock photography, make sure that research is done in order to avoid any lawsuits that will ultimately take away from any profit of the images used.