What you need to know about "Royalty Free Images

image database guide

Royalty Free is a license that stock photography agencies use to market stock images.

The rights of use and the associated conditions are governed by image law. If you want to find out the license of an image you want to use, use those found in dedicated royalty free image databases. There are many platforms that offer royalty free images. You will find a variety of databases, which offer a multitude of options in terms of photos or graphics and have few conditions for use.

With this license, the buyer has a well-defined set of rights to use the image in various ways provided that a one-time flat fee is paid. In principle, this license is payable only once and you have the right to use it forever with full knowledge and without paying any extra charges.

Better understand royalty-free image licenses

You must first understand that the image license image license gives you the right to use a photo in a certain way, not to own it. to own it.

The photographer who took the picture remains the owner. He therefore holds the copyright. These rights designate all property rights on texts, music, photos, paintings and many other paintings and many other intellectual creations whether they are physical or not. These copyrights allow photographers and artists in other artists in other disciplines to market their works as many times as they wish and times as they wish and thus to profit from it. It should be noted that these photos are NOT free images.

In general, the profit of the sold license is shared between the agency and the photographer. is shared between the agency and the photographer. Sometimes, the buyer is obliged to pay royalties to the copyright holder. the buyer is obliged to pay royalties to the copyright holder the agency or both for each use of the photo. This is not the case with with Royalty-Free (RF). You only have to pay once to one time to benefit from a varied set of rights.

It is the stock exchange agencies that sell licenses that allow buyers to use the photos. However, these do not transfer the copyright, or even the ownership of the images.

Top 5 agencies that sell free images rights


You can find royalty-free images at several stock photography in several stock photography agencies, but the most popular are in the in the microstock sector. Indeed, in the microstock system, the photos are not only photos are not only very accessible, but also economical. This is due to the one-time payment and the fact that you can use the image several times.

There are many microstock agencies that sell RF images RF images are numerous, but we have been able to select the best sites of photographs.


royalty-free images on photo deposit
What you need to know about "Royalty Free Images" 9

This agency has a wide variety of RF images at a very simple and flexible flexible price. It offers on-demand image packages and subscription options. subscription options. Here you can take advantage of this special discount offer special discount and free images from Depositphotos.


royalty-free images from shutterstock

This agency has experienced imminent growth in recent years. It holds the largest largest photo collection with over 190 million photos, vector and RF illustrations. It adds more than 800,000 new photos every every day. Their simple pricing includes image packs to be purchased on demand and photo subscriptions.

Adobe Stock

adobe stock royalty free images

 This image stock service, in turn, inserts a collection of in turn, inserts a collection of photos into the Adobe Creative Cloud in order to simplify the simplify the design process, including stock photos.

iStock (formerly iStockphoto)

istock offers royalty-free images

Istock is next on the list. It is owned by Getty Images (the most famous storage agency in the industry). This microstock company has a large selection of budget images and adds an incredible collection of high quality photos exclusive to their company. One can find millions of of RF images can be found in their library.

StockPhotoSecrets Shop

stockphoto, many choices of royalty free images

 This agency is one of the best options to buy royalty-free and affordable photos. It offers nearly 4 million photos on its website. Small and medium-sized businesses can choose between choice between flexible annual subscriptions 99club and Low Volume.

Getty Images

getty image photos royalty free images

Some traditional stock photography companies work with royalty-free work with royalty-free in addition to other more specific types of more specific licenses. Getty Images is the most renowned photo stock agency in the industry and owner of iStock. It has a very varied collection of collection of royalty-free images for commercial use.


  • Royalty-free images: key features
  • Royalty-free images: at what price?
  • Are royalty-free images really free?
  • How to use royalty-free images?
  • Types of licenses associated with royalty-free images
  • What are the restrictions on the use of royalty-free images?
  • Make sure to use royalty-free images: FAQ

Royalty free images : Features main

Now that you know that royalty-free images are not free, it is also important to free, it is also important to note the restrictions and the essential rights rights associated with them.

- Non-transferable - The license is reserved only to the buyer. When you buy an RF image, you are not allowed to share it share it, resell it or give it to someone else. No one can use this image legally, except the buyer of the license. the buyer of the license.

- Non-exclusive - RF images can be used by as many images can be used by as many people as they have a license to use. The associated with them does not belong exclusively to you or to any other other buyer. If you want to take advantage of exclusive rights to use a photo, you will have to a photo, you will need to acquire a different type of license. Sometimes stock agencies agencies say they have "exclusive royalty-free images". This means simply means that the photos are exclusive to that agency and not to the buyers. In other words, you will only find them in their library. But they are still available to as many people as pay a license.

- Perpetual - Once you have purchased the license purchased, you can use the RF image as long as you want. Please note that there is no time limit on the use of a royalty-free image unless specified by the unless specified by the agency selling the license.

- All over the world - The Royalty Free license license allows you to use the image anywhere in the world. The royalty-free photos can be used without can be used without geographical limitation if no particular restriction is restrictions are indicated by the licensing agency.

- Multiple use - The Royalty Free license license also allows you to use the image in a wide range of uses. of uses. This can be physical (print) or digital use. digital. You even have a choice of distribution methods. However, there are some restrictions on the use of RF images (see below).

Royalty-free images: at what price?

Royalty-free image rates vary from agency to agency. In general, it is much cheaper than other types of licenses such as Rights Managed (RM). Rights Managed (RM) license.

It is the very nature of RF that is the main cause. Since you only pay for the license only once, and there is no other royalty or payment obligation obligation to pay, royalty-free image licenses cost less than those that than those that require you to pay royalties for each use of the photo. of the photo.

The price difference between RF images and MR or other licenses can also be defined by the agency's business model. also be defined by the agency's business model. For example, Getty Images example, Getty Images, offers RF images at a flat rate, but they are generally are generally more expensive compared to microstock. They sell for as little as 125 USD and benefit from a higher image resolution.

The free images really free?

The royalty-free images are not free. They are indeed associated with a price that is set by the stock exchange agency. This The latter sells them and also keeps their copyrights.

Despite the fact that they are called free images images (the designation of free photo can be misleading), you should know that in reality, this is not the case. The concept "Free" in "Royalty Free" refers to the fact that refers to the fact that you don't pay royalties to the owner of the image (nor to the vendor of the license) every time the picture is used, nor every time the picture the photo generates a profit.

In principle, you must pay for the rights to use the the rights to use the photo royalty-free, subject to acceptance of certain conditions, but only once. After that, you are free to use the photo to use the photo as you wish forever.

How to use royalty-free images?

You now understand what is at stake with royalty-free images, what they represent and the restrictions that restrictions that apply to them. But now it's time to find out how you can use royalty-free photos in practice. practice. Below you will find a list of the most popular and practical things to do or uses popular and practical uses of royalty-free images:

- on web ads or Web ads or Web sites

- In t-shirts, prints and other products that you will then resell. In most cases, you will need to purchase a more extensive license.

- in the covers of books, e-books, CDs, DVDs CDs, DVDs or in the editorial content of books, e-books. To do this, you must purchase an extended license.

- in the framework of creative projects

- In your website template. However, in the context of design and visual enhancement, do not seek approval for your product or approval of your product or service by the people in the photo.

- In films or multimedia productions multimedia productions. Sometimes a more extensive license is required.

- in internal designs and printed printed banners for work environments, homes, commercial homes, commercial places, etc.

- on printed promotional content or print advertisements print ads

- in online marketing campaigns

Everything you have seen so far is just general just general information. You have to pay attention to every mention in the license associated with the royalty-free images you buy.

Types of licenses associated with images royalty-free

As with other types of licenses, royalty-free images are subject to two different types of licenses that define the use: editorial and commercial.

- The free editorial licenses of licenses are more restrictive compared to commercial licenses. Even though this means that you only pay for the license once and use it forever, the accepted uses are use it forever, the accepted uses are only for editorial purposes. editorial purposes. Royalty-free editorial images may be used to enhance or illustrate text in digital or print publications (e.g. to accompany articles as a graphic in the text, etc.). It is strictly prohibited to use it for commercial or for profit. Many agencies also limit the distribution allowance. Nowadays, most of them set the reproduction / circulation limit at 500,000 500,000 copies, while others set it at 250,000 copies or less. while others set it at a maximum of 250,000 copies.

- The commercial licenses free of licenses allow a wider range of use. It is possible to use royalty-free images in virtually any commercial purpose of your choice, both of your choice, both physical and printed. This can include websites, marketing and advertising, graphic designs, internal designs, etc. However, distribution limitations still apply. The majority of agencies limit reproduction/printing, most of them set this most set this limit at 500,000 copies and others at 250,000. 250 000. As for television, film and other multimedia uses, they have the multimedia uses, they usually limit the use to the project budget (this is the case with with Shutterstock).

- You also have the right to use stock photos in web templates
This is also true for all kinds of products intended for resale, such as T-shirts, packaging, etc.). This is also true for all kinds of products for resale, such as t-shirts, packaging, etc.). However, not all of this is allowed with a standard Royalty Free license. An extended license is useful if you want to use the photo in any of the following ways.

- Extended royalty-free licenses grant you additional rights not available with standard licenses. standard licenses. With an extended license, you benefit from unlimited reproduction / unlimited reproduction/printing, restrictions on the use in multimedia distribution distribution and rights to use the photos in products intended for for resale. In the case of royalty-free editorial images, the only additional additional rights are those related to distribution (but the restriction to editorial use editorial use still applies).

What are the restrictions on the use of royalty-free images?

Apart from the general remarks above, it is also forbidden to use royalty-free images that affect commercial and editorial licenses. Here is all you need to know:

  • You are not allowed to share the image with other users. It is also forbidden to place it on a network, a drive with shared access or an intranet. You may not transfer or give the image to a third party either.
  • Resale or redistribution of the image as is is also prohibited. It is best to use it as part of a complete design.
  • You should not use the image for pornographic or adult content or purposes. This also applies to any other morally questionable use.
  • Furthermore, it is forbidden to use images with properties or models in a defamatory way, i.e. a negative connotation on the models or properties described in the image. This restriction also applies in the case of concepts about politics, health, gender, sexuality and any other sensitive use.
  • You should avoid using images with templates or properties that imply an endorsement of any product or service.
  • Finally, you are not allowed to use the image as part of a design, trademark or logo. This is a legal impossibility. Since you do not own the image, you cannot create a design that contains the image, such as your own.

It should be noted that each agency has the ability to add or remove restrictions on the use of restrictions on the use of its royalty-free images. You should therefore carefully read the terms of the license agreement, but these are the common limitations common to all.

Right use royalty-free images: FAQ

Do you have any doubts about free images and their and their use? You may find the answers to your questions in the following list:

Can I use royalty-free images in my brand identity? This is probably not possible. The use of royalty-free images in graphic graphic designs is possible. However, you may not incorporate them trademarks, brands or logos. You may very well use royalty-free images in your brand advertising or marketing efforts. marketing efforts.

My project is a non-profit project, can I use royalty-free images free of charge? - No, you can't. You have to pay a license to use royalty-free images, whether for commercial or non-profit use. commercial or non-profit use. Free use is not possible, because unlicensed use is illegal.

And if I I design ebook covers, am I allowed to sell them with a free image? image? Yes, you can. Be aware that you will need to have an extended license for the image. In addition, it is recommended that the author / owner of the book also purchase a license for the image as an additional legal protection. legal protection.

Can royalty-free licenses licenses be used for the purpose of used in the template of my own site Web? Yes, indeed, you have the right to do so as long as provided that the design does not force the people in the photo to approve your product.

I am a graphic a graphic designer, can I use royalty-free images in designs that I will then sell to a designs that I will then sell to a client? Yes, you can if the images are modified and integrated integrated into your design. In fact, you are not allowed to resell royalty-free images as is. It is possible to use the same image in same image in different designs.

Is it can I use royalty-free images in templates that I will then sell? for sale? You may be able to do this, but you will need an need an extended license.

Is it possible to purchase exclusive rights to a royalty-free image? No, this is not possible. It should be noted that the images purchased in free of do not give the right to exclusivity on them. Indeed, different buyers can have a license of use. The same image can be licensed by many buyers over time or simultaneously.

Now you know all the important things to know about royalty-free photos. You can now make sure that they are compatible with your goals and that you use them correctly. However, always be sure to read the contents of the license agreement carefully. Each stock agency has the right to make changes in their own licenses. Just make sure you understand the rights you are buying.

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