Licensing and Copyright

Licensing and copyright are sometimes subjects which confuse a lot of people.

This page hopefully gives you the basics, so you’re not overwhelmed and you have a clearer understanding when it comes to my photographic work.

Licensing and Fees

Photographers make a living by licensing their work, not by selling it outright.

If you buy a book or a piece of music, you have essentially bought the license to read or listen to it, you don’t own the rights to what should happen to it. That is the same principle for photographs.

A commission for a a photographer will automatically grant you some rights to use the resulting photograph. ‘This is usually included as part of the quoted fees and is known as ‘licensing’ or a ‘licence to use’. Put simply, it is permission to use the work. ‘

The fee you initially pay will be determined by a number of factors:

  1. Intended use (Print media/ Digital Media/ Social Media)
  2. How long you want to use the images for.
  3. Where in the world you intend to use the images

The original negotiated fee would normally include the following as industry-standard practice:

1 Year UK use or any single country plus any two media (a third media may be included depending on its proportion of the media spend), or;
2 Years UK use or any single country plus any one media.

If you want greater rights than the photographer provides as their standard, there will be additional fees to pay – that’s only fair. If you wanted full ownership of the photographs, you would need to purchase the copyright from the photographer. This is called an ‘assignation of copyright’. It needs to be a written document, signed by the photographer and transfers the title/ownership in the photographs to you in full.

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of intellectual property that allows individuals to own the results of their creativity. It entitles the copyright owner to royalties and a say in how a work is used when it is reproduced by other people.

Who owns Copyright?

On the whole, the photographer will own the copyright in their photograph for their life plus 70 years, unless they have created the photograph in the course of employment or signed an agreement to the contrary.

Where a photographer works by commission, they will own the copyright in the photograph unless they have assigned or sold it to the commissioner.

Click the link below for the UK Governments advice on Copyright

Copyright information sheet:

Copyright Notice: digital images, photographs and the internet

Other Useful Links:


British Copyright Council

The Association of Photographers

The Royal Photographic Society

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