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Business Resources

Licensing Guide

The Power of Licensing

Work to retain control of your images! This chart shows you the potential for income an image can have. The stock licenses illustrated below are only possible if you retain the copyright to your work, your paper work is in order and proper releases are executed.

 

Commercial   Editorial   Retail

© Steven Gross

Stock License
Plus Pack license for print advertising to Metropolitan Life.

© Steven Gross

Stock License
Bride Magazine illustrating article.

© Steven Gross

Assignment
Wedding photographed for bride and groom. Model releases on file.


© Jim Flynn

Assignment
Annual report for Bank of America. Model releases on file.

© Jim Flynn

Stock License
Sociology textbook.

© Jim Flynn

Stock License
Greeting card self published by photographer.


© Jim Scherer

Stock License
Web use by Expedia.com.

© Jim Scherer

Assignment
Article on California wines in Gourmet Magazine.

© Jim Scherer

Stock License
Print sold for fine art display.

The images used here are for illustration purposes only. We thank the photographers who generously donated the use of their images for this illustration.

 


 

When a photographer is commissioned to do a project, the paperwork — estimate, assignment confirmation and the final invoice — should all contain the “license” being granted for the agreed upon price. Even if you are granting very broad usage to a client, that usage is a license and should be treated as such.

 

SMART LICENSING

The licensing terms for a given assignment are a valuable tool when negotiating price. Clients will frequently ask for more rights than they need and, if their budget is lower than your price for the job, limiting the rights of use is something you can offer as a way of cutting their costs. If broad rights, particularly exclusive rights, are critical to the client, you can negotiate a higher fee due to the extreme use. Listen carefully and be flexible — licensing your work is a powerful tool.

Here are some examples that illustrate the importance and power of licensing your work and retaining your copyright.

 

  • A photographer is hired to photograph a building for the owner of that building. The images are licensed for very broad use, allowing the owner to market the rental spaces available in a variety of media. The license clearly defines that the rights are granted only to the building owner. A month later, the architect approaches the owner about obtaining some of the photographs for her web site. The owner, because the terms of use were clearly defined, correctly refers the architect to the photographer, who is able to generate income from these existing images through a new license to the architect.

     

  • A photographer is commissioned by a trade magazine to photograph a corporate CEO for an editorial piece on the company. The publication licenses one-time North American print rights and editorial worldwide web use exclusive for six months. A year after the project, the CEO is indicted for fraud and pictures of him are in great demand. The photographer is able to re-license this portrait many times over in various editorial outlets.

     

Next: How to Write a License