What Does Royalty-Free Mean?

As you browse collections of stock photography, you’ll probably come across the phrase “royalty-free.” This term doesn’t refer to any monarchs or royal families, but instead concerns the financial definition of royalty: “an amount of money that is paid to the original creator of a product, book, or piece of music based on how many copies have been sold” (source). So what does royalty-free mean in the world of stock photography? And as a customer, what do you need to know before you purchase a royalty-free license? Scroll down to find out.

What Does Royalty-Free Mean?


What Does Royalty-Free Mean?

What does royalty-free mean?

So what does royalty-free mean? A royalty-free license gives you the right to use an image or video multiple times even though you will only pay for it once. If you’re on a tight budget, this system can be very useful. Although most licenses can only be used by one user on one computer, that image or video can be used in a variety of different projects and you won’t have to pay an additional cost each time you use it.

Am I purchasing the image/video or the license?

When you buy a royalty-free product, you’re purchasing the license, not the image or video itself.

Are there restrictions regarding who can use the image and how many times it can be copied?

This will depend on the stock photography website you choose. Here at Lightstock, the standard license is single-seat (meaning that only one person is allowed to work with the image) and the maximum number of allowed copies for distribution is 25,000. However, if you’re working with a group of people and everyone will need to have access to the image, you can purchase a multi-seat license. Similarly, if you will need to make more than 25,000 copies of the image, you can purchase an extended license. The extended license costs 80 credits and with it, you can produce an unlimited number of copies of your final work. Check out our terms and licensing for more information.

How should I choose a royalty-free image or video?

Since you’re purchasing a royalty-free license and will be allowed to use the product multiple times, try to choose images and videos that are versatile. This is especially important if you’re on a tight budget, as it will allow you to make the most of the products you purchase. So look for images with themes that appear often in your work or for images with content that can be interpreted in a number of different ways. For example, if you purchase a photo of a person reading a book with a hidden cover, you could use the photo in a blog post discussing summer reads, an article about your favorite Bible verses, the resources section of your website, etc.

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Now that you can answer the titular question (What does royalty-free mean?), it’s time to start hunting for that perfect stock photo. Be sure to check out Lightstock, especially if you’re looking for a faith-focused photo. Our stock photos aren’t cheesy or awkward, and we can say that with confidence because no photo makes it onto the website without a pair of eyes reviewing it. Click here to get started.