It’s tough to navigate the world of image licensing and copyright when you’re looking to publish for yourself. Most of the time when you’re on the internet, you probably don’t think twice about borrowing an image to put on your Facebook Wall or Twitter Feed, but if you’re looking to use a picture in a commercial setting — such as on the cover for your book! — then you need to make sure that it’s safe to use.
There are three major types of stock images that you need to know about — understanding which is which and what kind of image you can budget for is important.
Royalty Free: Royalty Free means you do not have to pay a fee every time you use the image, making it useful for books and magazines where you have a large number of copies you might want to put out. However, royalty free does NOT mean free — you may have to pay a one time licensing fee to use the image, and there may be a limit to the number of times you are allowed to use it.
Rights Managed: These are the most regulated type of copyrighted images. You need to pay a licensing fee to use this type as well, and this fee can be larger or smaller depending on:
- Usage: (e.g. Advertising – “Above the Line”, Corporate – “Below the Line” or Editorial – “News Media”)
- Specific Use: (e.g. Billboard, Annual Report, Newspaper article)
- Duration: (e.g. 1 month, 2 months, 1 Year, 2 Years etc.)
- Print Run: (e.g. up to 10,000, up to 1m)
- Territory: (e.g.; USA, Europe, UK, Germany, or whatever combination of territories are required)
- Size: (how big is the image to be used – 1/4 page, 1/2 page, full page, or double page spread)
- Industry: (Industry type – e.g. Consumer Electronics, Marine Engineering, Financial Services etc.)
- Exclusivity: (Exclusive, or Non Exclusive)
(list via Wikipedia)
Public Domain: These are images that have no copyrights on them — either because the already existing copyright has expired, or the creator of the image has forfeited their copyright. If you’re looking for a cover that doesn’t cost any money, public domain images are your best bet.
Even if you don’t end up having to pay for your image, it’s good etiquette to credit the person who created the image in the first place if you have access to that information!
Where do you go to get images, though? Here are some great resources:
Public Domain Images
5. Image After
Remember, even if you’re on what you think is a public domain page, make sure that the image you’re using is available for commercial use.