What is a Licence?

The licence is a permit from an authority to own or use something, do a particular thing, or carry on a trade, defined by Oxford Dictionaries.

In relations to intellectual properties, a license is a permit from an authority to own, distribute, and reuse the protected resources.

There are three types of commonly used licenses in the media industry.

  1. Rights Managed (RM)

This license was designed to protect owner’s work on a per use basis. For example, if you want to use a high-resolution photograph for your website you would have to pay for the license to use it.   Screen Shot 2016-11-22 at 12.17.21.png

The license owner decides the terms and conditions of each picture, the numbers of copies it can be used in, what mediums they are allowed to be published on, and such.


  1. Royalty Free (RF)

“Royalty Free was created as a licensing model in response to the need that advertisers have to use images for a whole campaign. An advertising agency might design a campaign for their client that includes a brochure, a website, ads in magazines and newspapers and billboard ads. Pictures are often fundamental to such a campaign, and the advertising agency does not want their client to have to pay for every different usage or every time the campaign is rolled out to a new market. Therefore, stock photo agencies in the 1990s developed Royalty Free.”(Larsen, no date)

Royalty Free licenses work by image size; the larger the file is the pricier it becomes. Because the larger the file you have at your disposal, the more uses you can put it to.

One example of this can be the Enhanced licences listed on Adobe Stock license information page. You can pay £399.99 for the higher resolution version or £199.99 for the 1699 x 1125 pixel version.

  1. Creative Commons (CC)

With the internet and digitalisation, it is harder for artists to declare their rights and make profits out of each single copy of their work. Creative Commons were developed by a not for profits organisation in the US. It will allow your copyrighted work to be freely shared and you can determine the conditions of that sharing.  

Under this category, there are six licences that vary in their openness from a license where anyone can use your work or anything as long as they attribute you as the creator of the work.

Usually, a lot of artists use this licence to share their work for free marketing. You can see this type of licence on various multimedia search engines.  


To find out more about licensing check out the links below:

Africa Media Online: http://www.shutha.org/node/600

Creative Commons: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

Center of the Study of the Public Domain:http://web.law.duke.edu/cspd/



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