11 Reasons for Buyers to Choose Rights-Managed Photography Over Royalty-Free

At first glance, it might appear that royalty-free stock photography would offer the better value for the money, so why would any photo buyer choose rights-managed stock instead? There are actually a lot of good reasons to choose rights-managed photography — many of them too often overlooked by buyers.

Here are 11 advantages to buying RM stock:

1. Rights-managed photography continues to be the industry norm. Although royalty-free licensing is growing at a phenomenal rate, rights-managed licensing continues to be the industry norm. RM continues to be the choice of professionals, while RF generally appeals to the smaller players.

2. Wider range of topics. The more average, run of the mill, trendy themed photos are more likely to end up in the RF arena. A search through the RF offerings on any stock photography site can verify this; duplication abounds and there is much less original content than can be found in the RM arena. The expanded range of topics is more appealing to more discriminating buyers, such as books, magazines, or any designer who prefers to purchase unique works.

3. Protection from reuse of the same image. Once an RF image is purchased, there is no limitation on the number of times it can be used. Conceivably, one person could purchase an RF image, use it an unlimited number of times, and even share it with others. Once the RF image is purchased, the control of its use is gone forever. With RM, the license spells out the particulars of how, when, and where the image is used. Not only is protection provided to the photographer, but also the buyer is assured that someone else will not “cash in” by using the same photo.

4. Top photographers sell RM. Not to sound elitist here, but those at the top of the field generally do not sell RF stock. This fact alone makes for higher quality images with a full measure of exclusivity. Think of the difference between bologna and prime rib. Both fulfill a need, but the prime rib does so with much more finesse.

5. Clients can purchase exclusive use licenses. Although purchasing an exclusive use license for a RM image may cost more, the more discriminating buyer can justify the additional expense by decreasing the risk of a similar shot being used by a competitor. With the exclusive license, the customer gains assurance against duplication, as the terms of the RM licensing allow use of the image only by the buyer.

6. RM is not always more expensive. Depending on the end use for the photo, a single use RM license may actually be the less expensive option. Since pricing on RF photos is based on size, for the small buyer looking for a photo for a single use, the better option could often be the RM license. Not only does the buyer get a better quality image, he is also assured that he will not see the same image in use repeatedly.

7. Higher quality images. A photographer is more likely to sell his best work as RM to have some control of how the photo is ultimately used. Common topics and easy shots predominate in the RF arena, which is another issue with RF.

8. Weeds out inferior images. With so many lower quality images available as RF, a lot of searching and sifting through available offerings is necessary. With RM, the client avoids the task of weeding out images of lesser quality as the offerings in RM are higher quality works.

9. Avoids imitation. Imitation of the industry leaders by their competitors or wannabe competitors is a fact of life. Designers, advertisers, and editors closely follow current styles and trends. Trendy, current styles get a lot of play and as a result, get a lot of exposure, running the risk of overexposure. People in similar fields tend to search for similar keywords and will naturally select the best of the offerings. This can lead to overexposure of a particular image as the best ones will naturally be the ones selected most often.

10. Cheaper than commissioned work. While the whole issue of similar works or copied images can be avoided by using commissioned work, budget constraints may not make commissioning photography work a viable option. RM stock photography bridges the gap for the buyer by providing high quality original content with reasonable pricing.

11. Protects the buyer. While protecting the photographer’s revenue, the specifics of the RM licensing also provide protection for the buyer. The photographer is aware of what the intended use of the image is and can therefore make the buyer aware of any likely conflicts in the use of the image. The nasty arena of brand confusion can be bypassed simply by making use of RM licensing.

The phenomenon of stock photography continues to grow with both RM and RF stock licensing models holding their respective places in the field. While there is no right or wrong, RM images provide a level of protection for both the photographer and the buyer that just cannot be had with RF.

[tags]stock photography, rights-managed photography, royalty-free photography [/tags]

11 Responses to “11 Reasons for Buyers to Choose Rights-Managed Photography Over Royalty-Free”

  1. The RF vs RM issue is one that has been the topic of many, many posts by photographers that sell to both RF and RM sites. The point remains that some photographers are out for a quick buck and some value their work at more than a few dollars.
    Many good points in this article.

  2. are you trying to sell your lousy website ? isn't this a useless exercise ?

  3. when is this blog finally admit that RM is dead ?

  4. The big debate!

    There will always be a market for both, RM can never be dead, advertisers will always want exclusivity on images!

  5. What a photographer sells their photos for says a lot about what they think the imnages are worth. Pretty simple to figure out as to RM or RF

  6. I think Debra makes a lot of good points and I liked the write-up as well as differing opinions to my own but she still falls into the category of someone who isn't changing with the times/clinging tightly to the past. I am sorry to be critical but some of the points lack common sense, paint too broad a picture and are elitist. Also I think you could have combined 7 and 8 and had a top ten list.

  7. Rm is definitely not dead, nor will it ever die because of a basic fundamental problem of copyright. The one thing any publisher whether books, magazines or newspapers hate is copyright infringement or potential threat of legal suit over usage. This alone guarantees a market for RM. Somebody just did a survey of a Feodor's guide to NYC-- and Alamy took 38 while AGE too 36 images in RM licensing of the images-- the rest was diddlesquat sprinkling of 4 or 2 images among several other agencies such as Corbis and Shutterstock at the bottom. It might only be one example, but a valid example of why a publisher would choose RM over RF or micro... the sources can be traced, the licences specified and if necessary, exclusive rights arranged.

    And I would not sell RF for similar reasons. I do not want arbitrary untraced usage of my images. There can never be complete control, but better some control and responsibility than none.

  8. One issue being overlooked by the RF proponents is the numerous RM niche stock sites that are the vision of individual photographers. These sites are directed at (generally) a smaller market and selling RF to those clients would leave nothing for the photographer's annuity once losing control of the licensing of those images. RM is vital to the economic survival of smaller stock agencies that are dependent on the continued licensing and reuse of their images.

  9. Not to be mean, but this is a blog about photography and the photo of the author is really a bad, fuzzy, blurry, bad color, pixalated crummy shot. When the world is watching, you wanna look good. I strongly suggest a new snap.

  10. I license both RM and RF through different agencies.
    and I have been seeing more demand on RM recently.
    And its always been better income from RM

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