What license to choose - royalty free or rights managed ?

It is easy to get lost while choosing between licenses. Acronyms RF and RM do not explain much about themselves. Their price difference is also significant and leads to easy choice of cheaper option even if it does not suit well client needs.

But the truth is that choice is quite simple and comes down to one single word - control.

Royalty free does not give buyer any visibility of use of the very same photo by other buyers. RF image is sold many times over and over again with no cap. Your competitor might purchase the very same photo and release his advertisement just day before You have planned to release yours. As a trade off RF license price is cheap and affordable for any pocket. Pricing of RF is usually related to an image size and a number of copies. RF license is quite open for usage, having some certain limitations regarding reselling merchandise or abuse of model rights.

Royalty managed guarantees You exclusivity of the image (even series of the images for additional fee). RM license is usually limited by territory and timeframe. The bigger the territory and the longer time is of use - the higher is the price. In return You get the full overview of who else, where and in what media is using this image for.

While purchasing RF license is just few clicks and goes with fixes prices, RM purchase require some communication with seller first specifying terms of use and quoting the availability and the price.

As a cheat sheet here are some common use cases and most appropriate licenses:

- My blog post needs an illustrative image. I do not need exclusivity and want it as cheap as possible
go for RF - You can get image for as low as few dollars. Web sizes go with unlimited online license (no printing)

- My client wants to get printed add in a local newspaper
go for RF - it is enough as long as number on newspaper copies is under 250 000

- We prepare important advertisement campaign and want to have unique images
go for RM - You get guaranteed exclusivity and control

- Our company is looking forward to produce merchandise with image printed on it
go for RM - as RF license does not include merchandise

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