This is serious people! Using images in our website content or products requires us to know our legal rights and implications! I have been wanting to write this post for a very long time. Every day as a web designer, and a PLR seller…I see people making mistakes, simply because they don’t understand.
Stock Image Licenses Are Misunderstood
Disclaimer: I am sharing everything I have learned over the past 10 years with you. I am not saying I am right or wrong…however, I have contacted many, many stockphoto sites, and this is what I have learned. If you have different thoughts or opinions, I would love you to share them with me in the comments below, as I am happy to research further if people have questions!
If images are not used correctly, you could be sued for violation of copyright and potentially even lose your business. This applies to little tiny bloggers, and/or big business owners. Saying, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know” or “Oopsie, my bad…” doesn’t get you out of trouble. Have you heard the saying, “Ignorance is not an excuse”?
Well, it’s not…so don’t use it.
The misunderstanding out there of what you can and cannot do is doing people’s heads in. Well I am going to write this as simply as I can (for website owners and product sellers) and explain what you can and cannot do, depending on your business. There are no affiliate links in this article, just the facts!
So I am going to cover who can use what stock sites, and why!
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The Different Types of Image Licenses
If you go to a stock photography website you will see different licenses. The main ones are these, and of which we are most concerned about:
- Standard License
- Extended License
- Royalty Free Stock Sites
- Royalty Free License under Creative Commons
The Standard License
– Perfect for Bloggers and Website Owners
This license is for website owners, NOT PLR sellers! So, I can go to BigStock and buy the photograph of my choice and post to my blog…ONCE. I cannot use it over and over again, without buying another license. That’s fair…the photographer is trying to make an income…so don’t steal from them. Here’s an example of what you see on a stock site like BigStock (which is my favorite site for my niche websites).
So you can buy the image, download it and place in your blog post.
BigStock Standard License
Bigstock grants you a personal, non-exclusive, non-transferable (except as herein provided), royalty-free right, throughout the world, in perpetuity, to use and reproduce Content in the following ways, subject to the limitations set forth herein… https://www.bigstockphoto.com/usage.html
The Extended License
– Perfect for Web Designers or End-Use Product Makers
Now, if I want to use it in a product that I am selling, for example a website design theme, or a T-Shirt, an eBook, I have to buy the Extended License.
This gives me the rights as a website designer to use in products I am selling to the end-user!
So I can buy an extended license for any images…and sell my websites to you with a personal use license.
This license DOES NOT apply to PLR Sellers! I contacted a few stock photo sites (one of which was BigStock) and presented my scenario on how I wanted to use their images.
A) I was the initial buyer, and
B) I was passing on a license for my buyers to resell the product. I was advised that in this instance my purchaser also required an extended license, to be able to sell their product.
How confusing! So basically my PLR license wouldn’t cover my customer’s rights to resell the product containing their image.
So in simple terms…
- As a PLR seller, the extended license covers me…but not my customers who may want to sell the product.
If you want your own clarification, just contact the stockphoto website, but explain what you want to do carefully. Many didn’t quite get what I meant to start with. I had to explain what PLR was to some!
So as a PLR seller, if I really wanted to use that picture above…I would have to spend 50 credits for an extended license, but provide each and every customer (who will then become a seller) with their own extended license for them to sell their ebook. Does that make sense?
The seller of any product has to be aware of their license obligations! Sorry for all the bolding, but I want to be extremely clear on all of this and not have you miss anything.
BigStock Extended License
Here’s just a snippet for web designers and bloggers (not PLR sellers)…
YOU CANNOT: Use an Image for multiple uses. Each separate use of an Image downloaded hereunder requires a separate payment. For example, if an Image is used as part of a website design and in a business card, each of those uses requires its own Image license which must be paid for each use. This is accomplished by downloading and paying for the Image as many times as necessary. Using an Image in multiple products without purchasing separate licenses for such uses is a violation of this Agreement and might expose you to liability for copyright infringement.
Royalty Free Stock Sites
– Perfect For All Bloggers, Website Owners and In Some Applications
This one gets PLR sellers confused too. ‘Royalty Free’ for commercial use…doesn’t that mean they’re safe to use? Yes, it does…BUT…we are selling a product, for others to resell as their own, so we have to be aware of the final implications to us and our buyers if we use them. Here’s a good example, GraphicStock.
Now, as a PLR seller I was looking for beautiful images I could use…and GraphicStock is a Royalty Free Stock Site. There are many sites like this! I pay $99 a year to use their images…and as many as I want. However…I read their license and thought…hmmm…I better contact them and make sure I am allowed to use their images for you, my customer!
Here’s their license: GraphicStock License
Well, they told me I can use them in my products for sale…IF…we don’t supply the source files, and we make sure the images we create are flattened. That means the individual photos from their site are not able to be extracted from the final product to be used on their own.
So if you want the source files for our infographics, we can supply them to you, only if you have an account with GraphicStock. I have it all in writing from them. I see some PLR sellers use photos from these types of sites…and unfortunately they are not aware of the implications….so I hope this article is helpful for all the PLR sellers too!
That’s why you don’t receive a source file with our infographics, because occasionally we may use one of their beautiful images and we are abiding by the rules!
- So we have a rule in our business, no source file goes with the super-size infographics. If you ever want the AI file…just show us your GraphicStock license, and we”ll give it to you!
Royalty Free License under Creative Commons
– Perfect for Bloggers, Web Designers, PLR Sellers…Anyone Can Use These!
These are the safe sites for PLR sellers! Finally! My all-time favorite is Pixabay. The reason is, they have great search features! Some of the sites that employ this license, have terrible search functionality. I can spend hours trying to find what I want. So Pixabay for me is the winner…and I hope you like the images I find for you! 😀
However! (OH NO, not another one…this is for the PLR sellers only.) I contacted Pixabay and they said it’s all good to use their photographs…BUT…we can’t have packs of their images on our sales pages…why? Their photos are uploaded by photographers for people to use freely. We do not have the right to sell them as standalone packs…we can use them in our products. As they said to me, it’s a very grey area, but just don’t say ‘Module #12’ – Here’s a pack of images we have picked just for you!
Images and Videos on Pixabay are released under Creative Commons CC0. To the extent possible under law, uploaders of Pixabay have waived their copyright and related or neighboring rights to these Images and Videos. You are free to adapt and use them for commercial purposes without attributing the original author or source.
Another site with this type of license is Unsplash. Their license is almost the same, they even say on their homepage, “Do whatever you want…”
All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.
Here’s another…look at their simple license instructions…
It’s hard to understand complex licenses that is why all photos on Pexels are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means the pictures are completely free to be used for any legal purpose.
- The pictures are free for personal and even for commercial use.
- You can modify, copy and distribute the photos.
- All without asking for permission or setting a link to the source. So, attribution is not required.
The only restriction is that identifiable people may not appear in a bad light or in a way that they may find offensive, unless they give their consent.
The CC0 license was released by the non-profit organization Creative Commons (CC). Get more information about Creative Commons images and the license on the official license page.
There are many sites you can use as a blogger, however, the purpose of this article was to explain the licenses applicable to bloggers, web designers and PLR sellers.
It doesn’t matter who you are in business, protect yourself and/or your customers.
I would love to hear your comments below!