Royalty Free (RF) is a license type which allows buyers to pay a fixed price for an image and have unlimited usage. The name refers to the freedom from additional royalties for different uses, territories, renewals, etc. Some years ago, the young starlet RF burst into stock photography with shocking fixed prices and CD offers. The new license was a great success, especially in advertising, so everyone started producing RF, and competing to sell it… But with time, a younger, more economical starlet appeared on the scene, and the original RF´s allure started to fade. RF has also especially suffered the decline of the advertising industry during the crisis. Although her future might not appear too bright, RF is clinging on with every last red painted nail.
Why clients ♥ RF…
RF is a no-hassle option which saves clients from administrative work.
The fixed price can be very attractive for images that are needed for multiple uses or high visibility.
Most RF is model and property-released, so clients can use it for almost anything.
RF images are often created for the advertising/design industry, so they generally communicate clear concepts and clean compositions/backgrounds that can be easily used by a designer.
Why clients don’t ♥ RF…
The fixed price of RF with little to no room for negotiation is too high for some clients.
The price no longer seems like such a good deal if compared to similar imagery available in Low Budget Royalty Free.
A client can’t purchase exclusivity of an image and doesn’t know whether the same image has been or will be used by a competitor.
Often, RF has many generic takes on the same concept, and there is little variety of specialized subjects available.
What photographers should know about RF.
RF is the ideal spot for your clean, conceptual images which can be easily used to illustrate advertising and business needs in positive ways.
Look at the newest ads, brochures, and websites around you to see what those needs are.
The advertising and design industry continues to demand luminous images with significant areas of negative/copy space. You should make images which communicate a concept, and also provide a space to incorporate text into the image.
There is a normal expectation from clients that RF images are completely released and free of third party rights. You should never send images of recognizable people to RF if you don’t have the signed releases.
You should also be extremely careful with other subjects that are not free of third party rights, such as very well-known landmarks, famous buildings and monuments taken in countries like the US or France, or artwork taken inside of museums, as there is no such thing as “editorial use” in RF.
- In the case of a legal dispute, it is much more difficult for your agency to withdraw RF images from the market, and to be able to track exactly how they were used. This puts you at greater risk if a legal problem develops. As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe in RM than sorry in RF!
Despite the challenges, the curtain hasn’t fallen on RF yet. Here are some representative images which remind us why. Join us in part 3 to meet the “younger, more economical starlet” LBRF.