AIPA Standard Photographic/Video Terms & Conditions of Engagement

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Licensing: The basics by Derek Morrison

Photo licensing is the practice of a photographer (author of a work) imparting a license to a client, so that the client may reproduce the photographic image. Rights-managed photography licensing has been standard practice for professional photography for many decades and still prescribes the way images are managed today.

The license is a contractual agreement whereby the author agrees to how an image (or artwork) may be used and usually with reference to the territory, timeframe and specific places the image may appear, such as a TV advert, billboard, magazine, advertising, point-of-sale material etc.

A license is granted on either a non-exclusive or exclusive basis. An exclusive license may be specific to an industry or maybe across the board – this means that no other entity may use that image for the term of the exclusive license. In contrast, a non-exclusive license means that the photographer retains the rights to sell another license for the same image. Non-exclusive licenses usually cost less than exclusive licenses.

There are three main types of rights managed photo licenses:

Commercial License: Where a licensee (the one buying the license) will use the image for financial gain in a commercial usage such as marketing, promotion, point-of-sale or to make physical products for sales, such as t-shirts or coffee cups.

Editorial License: Where a publisher may license an image to create a publication such as a book, magazine, calendar etc

Personal License: Where an individual buys a license to print from a digital file, such as from a wedding or portrait photographer, or buys a license to use the images on their personal social media accounts.