Royalty Free vs Rights Managed

Royalty fee vs rights managed – the battle between these common licenses continues in the mind of many creative professionals. Some have trouble deciding which to get, with their needs and budget in mind.


Royalty free and rights managed are very different from each other. They have their own advantages and disadvantages. To make sure you get the license you need, it is important that you understand how they work. By knowing the individual features of each license, you will be able to make the best of stock photos in your project and achieve your creative goals.

  • Royalty Free grants unlimited and multiple use of an image for a one-time flat fee. With only a few restrictions, you can use the image in multiple permitted ways. However, the license is non-exclusive. This means that the photos can be sold to multiple buyers who are willing to purchase them with an RF license.Royalty free images are priced at affordable prices in stock photo agencies. You can purchase them between $1 and $15 each. Getting a credit pack or subscribing to a plan lets you purchase the images for a lot less.
  • Rights Managed offers time and location specific use of images and per-use rights to use them. Unlike royalty free, it provides optional exclusive rights to the buyer during the licensed period. The images can only be used based on their consigned use. If you want to use them in a different way, you have to purchase another license.

The price of rights managed license depends on these 4 factors: purpose, location, duration of use, and exclusivity. Sometimes, it turns out to be cheaper than royalty free. It can also get considerably expensive. RM license has a more detailed buying process and custom-set rights. That’s why they are less widely available and with only few duplicates simultaneously in use.

Which License Should You Choose?

When deciding which license to choose, price is not only the factor to consider. You also have to think about how you intend to use the image, where you want to use it, and for how long you are going to use it. By evaluating your needs and goals, you can identify the suitability of each license and choose the best for your creative projects. Who knows, maybe you’ll save a lot more than you think while getting the most of out of it.

To wrap our royalty free vs rights managed license war, the main difference between the two comes with the rights they provide buyers. RF lets you use the image in any project for as long you like, without paying for royalties each time. RM lets you use the image in a specific way, at a specific location and within a specific period of time. It also gives you the option to obtain exclusivity rights. Now, it is for you to decide which license you should get.

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