Purchasing images and licensing implications.

Purchasing images and licensing implications

So you’ve instructed a designer to create an engaging brochure for your company but don’t have any images you can provide them because you simply don’t have any or the ones you have are not suitable for print (hi-res). This is when stock image sites can come in handy if you don’t have the time or the budget to hire a photographer but still need help purchasing images.

Purchasing images

When purchasing images from stock image sites it is important to take note of the websites licensing regulations. Each site differs on what it allows you to do, and where to use the images.

Generally, there are 2 main ways this is structured:

  1. Royalty free – When purchasing these images you are in effect purchasing a licence to use the image (by limits specified by the website) and not the total rights or ownership of the image. Sites that offer this include iStockphoto and Shutterstock.
  2. Rights-managed – These tend to be premier, subject specific images where you purchase a licence to use the image based on where you are going to use the image, the amount of copies or page views the image might receive and where in the world this is going to be used. There are several styles of pricing packages you can use depending on the website as most are now moving towards purchasing of credits on a one-off basis or monthly discounted model. Sites like this include Gettyimages.

Restrictions – what to look out for

Some images are labelled ‘for editorial use’ only. This means the image can only be used in editorial publications such as newspapers and magazines and not for anything that promotes a company use such as brochures and leaflets. Also, a big factor when purchasing images is who purchases the image, this

Implications of using stock images without a license

If you use stock images without holding the correct license you could be fined. This means that you could be in breach of copyright laws even if:

  • You accidentally use the image
  • You immediately remove the image after receiving a warning notice
  • The image is resized or edited in some way
  • If the image is licensed to your designer (Some stock images sites require that you get your own license)
  • You provide a link to the image source and cite the photographer’s name
  • You make no money from the website or print material the image is used on
  • You include a disclaimer on the website or print material where the image is used
  • You found it on Google (that’s not an excuse!)

Licence-free image sites

Sometimes a good alternative to using stock images is sites such as Unsplash who provide royalty free images you can download and use without a license. These sites showcase different photographers’ work and may ask you to include an image credit.

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Mark Williams

Mark Williams

Mark is a founding Director at Toast and heads-up the print team. He specialises in Report design and typography. He's been a Graphic Designer for over 25 years.