Understanding Stock Image Licensing

There are numerous advantages of buying and using stock footage. But however, not all footage is licensed in the same manner. Failure to recognize licensing and not knowing how to use it can lead a buyer into lengthy legal troubles. Read on to know more on stock footage licensing.

Stock footage has long been used in films, documentaries, sitcoms and news. There are a lot of advantages of buying stock footage, most important being that it saves you a lot of time and money. Money because you don’t have to pay for camera, crew and transport to capture shoots. Time is saved since you can buy the footage online rather than travelling to outdoor locales. In the case of historical footage there is no alternative since these images cannot be reenacted.

For all footage available for purchase online or through various vendors the buyer is granted a usage licensed. The licensing is either rights managed or royalty free. Both these license have slight difference when it comes to comparing them. If the footage is not used as per terms and conditions set in its licensing, then the buyer can be easily drawn into a stressful and lengthy legal battle. What’s more surprising is the fact that not many realise about these differences until court orders arrive. Frankly a bit too late! Let’s have a look at rights managed and royalty free licensing individually.

Rights Managed Footage

This is the ‘traditional’ way of buying the footage. To use this footage buyer has to agree to the predefined rights set by the creator. These rights are defined in terms of which media e.g. movie theaters, television broadcast, internet, DVD distribution, public events, trade shows, etc and in terms of territories and license period. The price correlates the scope of rights being used.

Royalty Free Footage

Buying royalty free licensed footage means more freedom when it comes to usage. The buyer can buy footage once and with purchase he owns the right of using it multiple times in one or several productions. The only restriction is that he cannot sell the footage to another user or production company.

Royalty Free VS Rights Managed

The difference between these two licensing becomes more prominent, when we compare their price, fees, permission and restriction. The buying price of a royalty free footage depends on image quality and file resolution. Like mentioned earlier the fees of rights managed correlates to the scope of rights and the number of times the footage appears in the same film, whereas for royalty free the buyer needs to pay one-off fees. Royalty free supports multiple use of footage as there isn’t any restriction associated with it. Restrictions, more often than not, is applied to rights managed making it necessary to go back to the licensor and relicense the same images in order to reuse the footage.

It’s difficult to say which licensing is better, both have their own advantages. Rights managed licensed footage tends to be more eclectic and more tailored to the users particular project. This means the project will look more unique because images selected to match the exact purpose of the buyer in terms of topic, look, and feel. Buying a royalty free footage is cost effective as buyer can use one image for numerous projects and the footage will tend to look more generic.

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