What is Rights Managed Licensing?


A Rights Managed Images, or RM for short, refers to an image which has a specific type of copyright license which, if purchased by a user, allows the one-time use of the photo as specified by the licence.

Rights managed licences are used for commercial use, in an advert, promotional material and so on, or for editorial use. If you want to use an image for personal use only, you do not need an RM licence.

If the user wants to use the photo for other uses an additional license needs to be purchased.

RM licences can be given on a non-exclusive or exclusive basis.

In stock photography RM is one of the two common license types together with royalty-free. Royalty free licences allow the user to pay a one-off fee and use the image many times.

I just want it for social media. Do I but a digital download or an RM social media licence?

I appreciate this is slightly confusing.

Digital downloads are personal use and can be used for social media in your own name. They come in three sizes depending on your needs.

The rights managed social media licence is for companies, including magazines and other publications, to use on their branded social media. You will get a bigger file so you can crop, resize etc. to your requirements.

In short, if you are using the file in your name, buy a digital download. If you are using it a company or publication name, buy the social media right managed licence.

How do I calculate the cost of the rights managed licence I need?

The cost of a rights managed licence is dependent on the number of people seeing the resulting material.

To calculate a licence price I will ask you questions:

  • the purpose for what the photo will be used (what industry, etc)
  • the geographical area where the photo will be used/distributed
  • the medium in which the photo will be used/distributed
  • the length of time the photo will be in use
  • the volume of copies or reach of the distribution of the photo
  • exclusivity rights to use the photo (when available)

The licence is customised to grant the required rights for the use you have in mind. This also determines the price of the licence, which is normally higher than that of Royalty Free images, depending on the rights you need to include (exclusivity rights usually come with higher fees).

The licence you buy is to use the photo in that specific way, and that way only. Any modifications to the intended use, or any completely different use that you want to make of the photo, will need a new licence (and therefore another fee).

Warning: if I discover one of my images being used outside their appropriate licence I will pursue the matter and subsequent costs to the user could be substantial.