Royalty Free – The Best Way

If you’ve followed my blog since the beginning or if you came on last month, you know I love using images.  My very first post, over a year ago, had a panoramic picture of cars parked on a street.  Way back then, as I began my research to set up all this, I went through the clip-art renderings that is a part of Microsoft Word.  I simply fished around to see what I could see.  I knew these would seriously have a copyright rule which would explain the nagging in the pit of my stomach, pestering me to e-mail them about just that.  Did this all come to me, because I’ve worked in the legal profession for so many years? Or did some arcane force assigned to me rise up and sound a high-pitched whistle that only I could hear? Who knows, but I followed that guiding.  Of course, I received a reply to my inquiry with a little smiley face advising that all of their images where absolutely covered under a copyright law.  Okay, so the next route took me to Wikipedia.  If you’ve ever perused their site, all of their photos come with specific language.  Some, out-and-out say material cannot be used under any circumstance.  But, then, there are others – let’s say I want to use a depiction of the Grand Canyon.  Click on the shot, it takes you to a larger version, with the following information:

This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons. Information from its description page there is shown below.
Commons is a freely licensed media file repository.

Then, below that is more language:

I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the following licenses:
 Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.     

Excuse me?  Well, I followed along until I hit that spot – the Documentation License.  Have you read this?  Reminds me of contraindications on the back of the medicine bottle.  But, please, I’m just a regular Wilhelmina Writer attempting to get my name out there so that when something – anything gets published, the guy around the corner or the woman across the pond might remember it.  So, needless to say, rather than taking the chance in misinterpreting something, I came to the conclusion, an easier way had to exist. That is, other than…ahem,  hiring an Intellectual Property attorney at $275.00 and up, an hour.

As I dug deeper, and mind you this is all before I wrote the first word – I don’t remember exactly what I Googled, but I stumbled upon an article written by someone who taught Leadership, and gave some pretty informative advise on setting up a site.  In reading through his data, he mentioned  “Royalty Free” photo sites, and that he specifically liked iStockPhotos.  Wikipedia describes royalty free as :

….the right to use copyrighted material or intellectual property without the need to pay royalties for each use or per volume sold, or some time period of use or sales.

Now, as I researched iStock, I couldn’t believe it – royalty free photography for a price.  But, if I wanted to remain legitimate, this definitely proved the ONLY way to go.  Besides, think about it – this is all business – creativity or not, it’s still business.  In the old days, when you placed your Wilhelmina Writer on that contract, it became business.  However, at that time the publisher worried about all that stuff,  am I right?  But, in today’s world it begins way before that.  It all takes form the instant your website goes live. Therefore, you must make it legal.  Yes, we all know that times are hard.  However, since this is important to me, I make means.  Also, way back when, as I mentioned before, I’d capture likenesses from around town or maybe I already had something in a collection some place.  Although, lately I find I’m exclusively using the royalty free material.  I think most of us has heard of one incident or another involving a writer and some copyright nightmare.  And, you know what? Language on your page or not?  Please, just do yourself a favor, and spend the money.

After an approximate year, something funny happened –  iStockPhoto sent me a survey where they listed a number of other royalty free providers.  So, you know I had to put those names in my browser, and click my way there.  Low and behold, I found one even cheaper than iStock.  Now, there were other places mentioned, but they were more suited for companies, since the prices were way out of the ballpark for individual use.  So, you see it’s all about research, and I can’t forget to mention that divine intervention had to have played a part.  Okay, so I guess since I brought it up, I have to share.  I now, mostly use 123rf dot com, which I consider a fantastic site.  If you’re using thumbnails the cost is one (1) credit or $1.00 for each.  Therefore, twenty (20) selections will cost you $20.00, and with four (4) posts a month – well, you see where I’m going.  And, just FYI, iStock’s pricing has recently changed, and not for the better.  They do have one (1) credit purchases, but you’ll probably find it on page 733 of an 11,500 page category. 123rf prices by size, meaning all their thumbnails are one (1) credit.

Don’t we all use computers these days?  Which means you already pay for paper, ink, routers, CDs, flash drives, wireless printers, and whatever else you might need.  Then, what’s $20.00, spread over five months or so.  I keep telling myself to simply have credits with both iStock and 123rf, but I continue to return to the latter, probably because the price is so good.  Although, I must say, and I don’t know if this is because they were my first provider, but iStock may have higher quality material.  In any event, I think it’s so worth the money, because even your most well paid author doesn’t want to get hung up in any copyright predicament.  Don’t you love it when we share – keeping each other up to date on this stuff?

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8 thoughts on “Royalty Free – The Best Way

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