Royalty free photo request


I received an email from a regional marketing company today asking for permission to use the above photograph that I’d taken of Colchester High Street with Christmas decorations which they’d spotted on Flickr. The purpose was for an email marketing piece and they asked if I would “permit us to use the following image rights free for this work only”.

I replied;

I’m not quite sure what you mean by ‘rights free’ – do you mean ‘royalty free’? As this is a commercial activity I’m sure you’ll understand that it’s only fair that I ask what budget you may have available for the use of images. I’d be happy to consider use of this image but it would be helpful to know a bit more about the intended use.

I am more than happy to grant permission for any of my photos to be used for non-commercial use and have done so on a number of occasions. But I’m concerned about a growing trend for commercial users to try to get photos for nothing by flattering people into allowing use of their images for the sheer ‘honour’ of attribution. If there’s money changing hands somewhere in the process then it’s only just that an appropriate proportion, according to the budget, goes to the content providers.

The reply I received was as follows;

Unfortunately whilst this is commercial activity there is no additional budget for imagery. Our entire imagery budget is utilised… on developing a stock library and as a result we have access to more than 30,000 images for free usage. Whilst it would be nice to feature your image, given its quality and relevance to the content, in this instance we do not have a budget to do so.

For the record, I’m not bothered about the money. I don’t call myself “Tim Abbott Photography” and put watermarks on my photos on Flickr in the hope that someone will think my photos are worth something. But neither am I that excited by the prospect of having my photographs used for free by people who get paid to make use of them, so for this request my answer is “no”.

However, in the event that someone wants to use one of my images for non commercial or charitable use I’m quite OK about that which is why they have a Creative Commons licence. Ask and I’ll likely say yes.

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2 Responses to Royalty free photo request

  1. roy says:

    great post – am amazed how often these stories come to light and more amazaed by how many organisations have “no budget for images” – Yeah right!!

  2. Tim Abbott says:

    I think what amused me was that this company do have a budget but that they’ve used it to create a photo library of their own and now want other people’s photos for free. At least they had the courtesy to ask!

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