• RBS Staff

Why Small Businesses Should Use Licensed Images

Updated: May 11

The internet has given businesses an endless resource of marketing and advertising materials. This especially comes in handy with small businesses that don’t necessarily have as much budget as larger corporations. But the thing, just because you can easily grab something off of the internet, doesn’t mean that it’s free to use. There are real consequences and legal repercussions for using licensed images without proper permission.

As a professional looking to market your business online, it’s imperative that you have a full understanding of what kind of trouble that you’re getting yourself into and out of by using images the right way.

Understanding Basic Copyright Rules

It doesn’t take a lawyer to understand a few simple basic copyright rules, especially if you simply want to protect your business from potential legal issues down the line. Keep these key points in mind to stay out of copyright trouble. 1. Copyright covers any creative work published in a “fixed form”. This includes any blog post or photo that you took yourself.

2. Copyright laws an extensive range of products and works. This includes literature, performance, visual arts, motion pictures, photographs, as well as digital content. You don’t need to apply for copyright protection. If your work is yours, you automatically have the right to be protected. You don’t necessarily have to use the copyright symbol “©” to stake your claim.

3. Copyright protects creative works from being used by other parties without permission. In the United States, you’ll have 90 days after publication to register your work with the United States Copyright Office if you want to have a chance to sue someone for stealing your work, otherwise known as “copyright infringement.” Your key take-away: If you didn’t create it, you can’t use it without permission, even if you give proper credit unless otherwise stated.


Paying for the Right License

If you ask for permission to use the image from the creator and you’re granted to use it without paying, then good. But most of the time, you do have to pay for the image, and it’s important to understand the difference between the kind of licensing that you end up paying for. As far as businesses are concerned, you’ll want to use “Commercial” images with either a “Royalty Free” (RF) or “Rights Managed” (RM) license. Both are similar in the sense that you’re granted permission to use the image. However, RM license only grants one-time use of the image. If you want to use it again on another project, that’s another payment. Meanwhile, RF licenses do have restrictions, but generally, as long as you keep the restrictions in mind, you can use the image over and over again. While RF licenses are universally considered better, there are certain situations where RM-licensed images are better. For example, RM-licensed images are usually exclusive to your brand. This means that your next marketing campaign will look more professional and less like what your competitors have done in the past.

How Much Do Licensed Images Cost?

If you are not using an image that is available as "free" content on a royalty-free site - the price can vary. As for an exact figure, it’s hard to give an accurate number because creators price differently and the kind of license that you’re looking for can affect the price as well. But in general, exclusive photos can cost somewhere around the $500 figure for a single photo, which is definitely not cheap. Just keep in mind though, that because you paid for it, you have minimal restrictions when it comes to usage and you won’t have to worry about facing legal consequences as much down the line.

The Bottom Line

Licensed images don’t sound good as “free”, especially for small businesses. However, they’re cheaper in the long run because this is an investment that won’t come back to haunt you in the future. Of course, this doesn’t mean to say that free resources have no use. You can and should still use such photos. But, keep usage to a minimum. The last thing that you want to happen is for your marketing campaign to look generic and just like every other campaign launched by your competition. I hope you enjoyed this article. Please leave a comment or share the article to help other entrepreneurs and freelancers. Want the latest tips, tool reviews, and news in your inbox? Subscribe to our newsletter.

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