A designer friend once let me in on a secret, a secret she described as “the designer’s little secret”. She was referring to istockphoto.com as a preferred source of reasonably priced images for commercial and other use. That was many years ago now.
Since that time istockphoto has become a part of Getty Images (and is now known as iStock) and we’ve seen a proliferation of competing stock imagery sites such as shutterstock.com, graphicriver.net, mychillybin.co.nz, dollarphotoclub.com, dreamstime.com, bigstockphoto.com and fotolia.com among many others.
When I refer to the “licensor”, I’m usually talking about the stock imagery service. When I refer to the “licensee”, I’m talking about the person or organisation that is purchasing a license from the stock imagery service to use the selected images in his, her, its or a client’s end site, product or service. IP is a common acronym for intellectual property (such as copyright) and IPR is a common acronym for intellectual property rights.
Images used at licensee’s risk
If the quality and pricing of the images across these two services (for example) were the same, I know which one I’d prefer.
Single user restrictions
“Editorial Use Only” content
I have seen a number of stock imagery provider terms which state that content that is marked “Editorial Use Only” cannot be used in certain ways. Sometimes “Editorial Use” may restrict use in certain types of websites. This may make it important to consider whether, if you’re using an “Editorial Use Only” image, you’re permitted to use it in the way you wish.
Web use limited to 72dpi
Care in use of images featuring models or other persons
Sometimes terms may state, for example, that if any content featuring a model or property is used in connection with a subject that would be unflattering or unduly controversial to a reasonable person, one “must accompany each such use with a statement adjacent to the Content that indicates that: (i) the Content is being used for illustrative purposes only; and (ii) any person depicted in the Content, if any, is a model, unless the Content itself clearly and undisputedly reflects the model or person in such potentially sensitive subject matter in which case the Content may be used or displayed in a manner that portrays the model or person in the same context and to the same degree depicted in the Content itself”. If this were relevant to your use of a given stock image, compliance may have design or presentation implications. Where that’s the case, you may wish to look elsewhere for your image.
Guarantees and indemnities in favour of the stock imagery provider
(Featured image a cropped version of a photo by Sarandy Westfall on Unsplash. Credit isn’t required but I like to give it anyway 🙂 )