Royalty Free or Rights Managed Images? Find out How to Choose Between Them - Growth Freaks

Royalty Free or Rights Managed Images? Find out How to Choose Between Them

royalty free or rights managed

One cannot possibly talk about the stock photography industry without referring to the rights managed and royalty free licensing models. But sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate between the two seeing as they are opposing models. Plus, they both have their pros and cons. So, royalty free or rights managed? Let’s find out.

Main Differences Between the Two Models

Royalty Free

The Royalty Free license will grant you a non-exclusive and unlimited right to use an image. You can use it as many times as you want with fairly few restrictions involved in the process. You have to pay one single fee just one time, and then you can use the image as you wish, no matter how many times you want.

However, the downside of this is the following. The owner of the image is only granting you the right to use a copy of the image and not the image itself. In other words, you don’t have exclusive rights to it. This means that he can then resell it to as many other users as he wishes.

This idea is the reason why royalty free images typically populate stock photo websites. They are then used by an entire plethora of websites for similar content. By means of consequence, online users become accustomed to seeing the same images over and over again. It’s a very important thing to keep in mind when considering whether to go for Royalty Free or Rights Managed photos.

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Rights Managed

This is another type of licensing model that gives you the right to use an image only over a specific period of time and in a certain geographical area. Also, you can only use it in the ways that your original license consigned you to do. If you need to use it for other purposes, you will need a completely different license.

As far as Rights Managed is concerned, the price of the image depends not on the picture itself, but rather on what you intend to do with it. Therefore, sometimes you will be able to afford an image while other times it will simply be too expensive to bother.

However, paradoxically and ironically enough, the cons transform into pros with Rights Managed pictures. They can prove to be expensive, and the buying process is a lot more detailed than in the case of Royalty Free images. The rights to use such an image are very specific and custom-set.

Still, due to the exact same reasons, one of these images will never have more than a handful of duplicates, if at all, in use at the same time. This means that the images you use in your online content will have a much higher chance to be original and never before seen.


Choosing Royalty Free or Rights Managed images depends not on the pictures themselves but on you. Ask yourself what you are looking for, what you need, and, of course, what kind of budget you have. That’s how you decide between the two.

Author: Amanda Knowles