Understanding Licensing Fees.

Image Licensing Made Clear. – Below is a copied piece of text, courtesy of Jonathan Bowcott Photography. He explains how copyright can apply to any medium, with photography being no exception. A photographer automatically owns copyright for an image produced. This article provided me with crucial information that I needed in order to write my article on image licensing.

“Before an explanation about licensing I want to start with a short sentence or two about Copyright and Intellectual Property (IP). They set the context for what follows and go a long way to explaining why licensing exists.”

Below are three quotes from the UK Intellectual Property office:

  • The creator of the image is automatically the holder of the copyright in that image.
  • Copyright applies to any medium. This means that you must not reproduce copyright protected work in another medium without permission. This includes, publishing photographs on the internet, making a sound recording of a book, a painting of a photograph and so on.
  • Copyright does not protect ideas for a work.  It is only when the work itself is fixed, for example in writing, that copyright automatically protects it. This means that you do not have to apply for copyright.

One of the reasons given for this automatic protection is that content creators (i.e. a photographer) can:

  • control the use of your IP, and use it to gain reward. This encourages further innovation and creativity.

I hope that sets some context as to why photographers, musicians, broadcasters, software designers, manufacturers et al retain their right to Intellectual Property and Copyright.

Prior to the nitty gritty can I just make clear three concepts I believe are at the heart of licensing images. They are:

Licensing images:

  • gives a customer versatility
  • is cost effective
  • is uniquely tailored to the needs of the customer

Perhaps summed up even more concisely:

Licensing an image means you only pay for what you need.

May I point out that a photographers fee is usually for their time, their professional experience, their knowledge, their equipment, their overheads and all the necessary insurances.
The license covers what, where and how the image will be used.

In photography, it can be argued that there are two dominant models of image licensing.
1. Royalty free and 2. Rights managed.


The Guide To Pricing Commercial Photography.

  • A useful article which again helped me construct my own piece about pricing architectural and interior photography. It goes into detail about image rights and creative fees.
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