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How to buy images at a stock photo site with explanations as to the various licenses involved.


screen shot of featurepics site

First of all – why “stock”
photography sites?

Very simple: these sites have
photos ready for instant downloading; the images already exist,
they are “in stock”.


It has nothing to do with quality
and price
(we found a lot of people associate “stock”
with 20 cents per image prices – no! )

It has nothing to do with
photographic subjects
(we heard from someone that stock photos
show everything except people – no! – photographs of common places,
landmarks, nature, events or people – all these are fit subjects for
stock photography).

It doesn’t mean stock images are
better or worse than original photography.

means only that you don’t need to hire a photographer to take a very
specific photo, you just go to a stock-photo site and look for a
photo that will fit your needs.

(Honestly, “buy and sell stock
photos” sounds a bit strange. Can you sell or buy a photo that
doesn’t exist? Let’s face it, for some of us – English is a strange
language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither
apple nor pine in pineapple.)


Ok, so we decided to find an
existing photo of a puppy. Let’s check


Type “puppy” in the keywords
box and start to check photographs.

As soon as we have found the
right one, we should check how we can use this photo before paying
for it.

screen shot of featurepics page of photos

Royalty Free
Image License
usually means that, you can use it almost any way
you want with a few important exceptions. General exceptions are: use does
not include resale. Libellous or pornographic use of the image is

You can not resell the Image, rent it,
sublicense it, to transfer Image to someone else. You can not use the Image
in connection with “sensitive subjects” (violence, alcohol, sex etc.)

Please note that Royalty-Free does NOT
mean ‘free of charge’ or ‘free to use as you like’
Images are copyrighted intellectual material and a fee
is still involved.

Rights Managed
Image License
, is usually defines an usage medium for the Image,
period of time that it can be used, circulation, and distribution

Rights Managed Image License is intended to ensure that the
user of the Image (client) has reasonably exclusive rights to use of the
Image. Naturally, the licence fees associated with a rights protected work
are considerably higher than those for a royalty-free image.

* Royalty Free images are more widely
distributed and as a result less unique. In other words you get a more
unique image, even when buying non-exclusive rights for a Rights-Protected

3. What if you want just to “try”
an image, to review an image for its suitability to your project?

Check, if a stock photo site has a “Comp”

Usually “Comp”
means you can downloaded an image from the site without
charge, use this image to “try out” in your layouts to see how
they will look. But you cannot use this image for any finished project or

The idea is that when you are ready to move
ahead with the final version, you must then purchase the image in the larger
file size.

4. In addition to these common use licenses,
some companies offer one more license: Open Image Suite User License.

Under this license you can use photo/image free
of charge
, but you are required to provide credit
to the Author
of this image.

FeaturePics.com Authors are
offering ~800 Images under this license*

*Since this article was first published FeaturePics appear to have
changed and it may not now be possible to feature images free of charge
with author credits.  Please enquire from the site in question as
to their current requirements.