Royalty-Free vs Rights Managed: image purchasing explained

Photography is a great way to keep your brand feeling fresh and revive marketing materials (new blog post about this coming soon!) On the other hand, crappy stock photography is a sure-fire way to make your collateral look cheap and out-of-date quickly.

So getting imagery spot on is essential. 

If time and budget won’t stretch to commissioning your own original photography, your creative agency will look to buy photography from one of many stock photography companies online. And this is where, we’ve noticed, some confusion can start to creep in. So here on the blog we explain the two key ways in which you can buy images and the best instances in which to use them.

Royalty Free Images

Despite having “free” in its name, you must pay for Royalty Free Images. However, once purchased, the images can be used much more freely than their Rights Managed equivalent. For example, if you buy an image for use in a brochure, it can also be used on other marketing materials, event signage, even internal comms. Once you’ve got the file you can pretty much do with it as you will. With some images costing as little as £10, this makes it a very cost effective option.

The downside, however, is that use of that image is not exclusive and any other company with access to the internet can also buy and freely use that image however they see fit. We’ve found that buying expensive RF images (say, upwards of £500) can help to deter the competition from doing just that.

These kinds of images can offer a fantastic, fast and budget-friendly way to bring your collateral to life – just as we did for the Connaught@Christmas team.

Rights Managed Images

With Rights Managed images, you pay a one time charge for a one time use. Unlike with Royalty Free images, any subsequent different uses will need to be renegotiated and re-licensed and will result in a new charge. If you know from the outset that you want to use an image across multiple platforms, you (or your creative agency) can work that into the licence right from the off.

While these types of images are more expensive than their Royalty Free alternative, the upside of these more detailed licences is that image use can be made exclusive

And this makes them a great choice for brand building and national/international campaigns where seeing your chosen image being used by another company could negatively impact your own brand’s reputation (it’s happened before!)

A side note: why we can’t just copy/paste an image off the internet (even your own website)

We get this one every now and again! 

Maybe we have asked you for hi-res versions of your company logo. Or Maybe you have come across the perfect image that really captures the spirit of your next campaign. You’ve sent us the link, first to your own site where the logo is everywhere, and secondly to a google image search result, so why can’t we just right-click them into our designs? 

There are two reasons:

Quality: images on websites are usually of such low resolution that they’re basically unusable in print or elsewhere. Getting the hi res files (whether an image bought from a stock photography site or a logo dug out from your servers) means we can guarantee the clear and crisp finish that your collateral deserves

Morality: technically that kind of copy/pasting is illegal but, more than that, an image online is someone’s work and, as creatives, we want to value that by paying the fee 

We love nothing more than finding the perfect image for our client’s campaigns. Get in touch with Christy and the team today to discuss your latest project. 

Are you ready to start your next creative project?

Email us or give us a call on 01275 400 777