Everything You Need to Know About Licensing Photographs


Nowadays, with the omnipresence of technology in all of our lives, it is safe to say that we definitely learn something new every single day. From learning about cricket betting or the one right way of doing the exercise that always seems painful to do, to learning about licenses that can be extremely important to your work: it’s safe to say that technology allows us to stay informed, every single day.

If you are a photographer, one of your end goals is probably making money, or licensing out photographs for different purposes. Let’s talk about licensing photographs and things you should know about before doing it yourself.

What Is Photo Licensing and Why Is It Important?

It is really easy — you need to license your photos so that they become your property. With these copyrights, you can choose the purpose your photos can be used for and by whom they can be used.

Copyrights are used to legally protect you if someone tries to misuse your work or outright steals it. To license your photos, you have to be their author or be given permission by the author to do so.

What Your Photographs Can Be Used For?

When it comes to usage regulations, there are two main categories. If you sell a licensed photo to someone, you can limit the purposes they can use it for. Let’s explain each of them now to give you a better picture.

Editorial use allows a user to use photographs for “public benefit”. This means that photos can be used for education, criticism, news reports or even websites and blogs for description purposes. 

Commercial use, on the other hand, means that a photo will be used for the purpose of making money. This means that a person or company you sell photos to can use those photos for product packaging, in a commercial, promotion, and more.

Usage Rights

Just like before, there are two types of usage rights you can choose from when licensing your photograph. 

An Exclusive License means that the licensee becomes the only one who can use photographs, and no other person, organization or even the author can exploit them. A Non-Exclusive License allows a licenser to give out licenses to multiple people or organizations. This means that the holder of an Exclusive Licence can sue others for copyright infringement, unlike the holders of Non-exclusive Licenses. 

You can also temporarily limit the usage of your photographs (how long a licensee can use it), by content, or even spatially (limiting the usage of the photo to certain countries). 

The type of use allows you to choose whether your image will be used technically (copying, printing, scanning, CD burning, and so on) or commercially (distribution or further utilization).

The right to edit grants you the control of how much the photograph can be altered. This ranges from allowing a licensee to fully redesign the photo to not allowing any edits to it at all. 

Last, but certainly not the least important is the designation of the author. This allows you to choose whether you will be credited for the photo or not. 

Other Things You Should Know About

When making a contract, a written agreement is the best choice since it can be used as evidence if there are problems down the line. 

If you wish to end a licensing agreement with unspecified duration, a declaration of intention is required, and it can be either unilateral (by one party), or mutual.