How to License Photos © Images Licensing Beginner’s Guide

Have you ever wondered how to properly license an image? It can be a confusing and overwhelming process; however, it’s essential to ensure that you are legally protecting your site’s images.

In this article, we’ll explore everything you should know about image licensing for WordPress websites. 

Did you know image theft statistics show that over 2.5 billion images are stolen every day? With so much content being created and shared, it’s essential to understand how to protect the images you use on your website.

By licensing your images, you can legally use them while also safeguarding against potential copyright infringement issues. 

In this article, we’ll dive into the details of image licensing and provide step-by-step guidance on how to properly license the images on your WordPress website.

What is Image Licensing?

Image licensing is the legal process of granting someone else the right to use your image for a specific purpose or period, while still retaining the copyright. It ensures that your work is protected and you receive proper compensation for its use.

There are various types of image licenses available, including royalty-free, rights-managed, and Creative Commons licenses. 

When licensing images for commercial use, it’s essential to ensure that the license covers the intended use and that the necessary permissions have been obtained. 

It’s also recommended to use an image license template or a photo license agreement to clearly define the terms of use and avoid potential legal issues.

6 Types of Stock Image Licenses

Understanding the different types of stock image licenses is essential for properly licensing an image. 

There are six main types of licenses: Royalty-Free, Rights-Managed, Editorial, Public Domain, Extended, and Creative Commons. 

Each license has different restrictions and pricing structures, so choose the right one for your use case.

1. Rights-Managed License (RM)

The rights-managed license, or RM, is a type of image licensing that allows for specific and limited use of an image. This means that the licensee has to pay a fee to use the image once and for a set purpose, and cannot use it beyond those terms without obtaining additional licenses.

Rights-managed licenses are often used for commercial purposes, such as advertising or marketing campaigns, where a high-quality and exclusive image is needed. They can be obtained from various photo licensing sites offering different image license types and photo license agreements.

For those looking to license images for commercial use, it’s important to carefully review and understand the terms of the RM license agreement and ensure that they align with their intended use. 

It may be helpful to use an image license template or consult with a legal professional to ensure compliance and avoid any potential legal issues in the future.

2. Royalty-Free License (RF)

The Royalty-Free (RF) license allows you to use an image without paying royalties or a fee for each use. However, this license may have limitations and restrictions that vary depending on the photo licensing site you are using. 

It’s essential to read the terms carefully and understand what kind of usage is allowed under the RF license. Basically, a royalty-free license has these rules:

  1. Pay Once, Use Forever
  2. Print Run Limit, No Reselling

When licensing images for commercial use, the RF license is a popular choice because it offers flexibility and cost-effectiveness. You can use the licensed image multiple times without worrying about additional fees, as long as you are within the permitted uses outlined in the license agreement.

To ensure compliance and avoid legal issues, it’s recommended to use an image license template or a photo license agreement when using RF-licensed images for commercial purposes. These documents will specify the terms and conditions of usage, including any restrictions or limitations.

3. Royalty-Free Extended License

When searching for images to use for commercial purposes, it’s important to understand the different types of image licenses available. 

While a Standard License provides basic usage rights, a Royalty Free Extended License adds a few essential usage rights on top of those included in the Standard Agreement; here are the usual rules of using an extended license:

  1. Unlimited Copies, Products for Resale
  2. No Reselling of the Image As-Is, Sensitive Use Limitations

As with Extended licenses, there are restrictions attached to Standard licenses as well. This means there are some things you simply cannot do with Royalty-Free extended stock photos, such as: 

You can’t resell, gift, or distribute the image exactly how you got it from the agency.

Using an image connected with a sensitive use topic, such as pornography, politics, religion, criminal activity, or drug trafficking is not allowed.

To ensure that you find the perfect image for your needs, be sure to research reputable photo licensing sites and review the image license types available. 

Additionally, it’s crucial to read and understand the terms of the photo license agreement before purchasing or using any licensed images. 

4. Editorial Use License

The Editorial Use Only license is a type of image license that restricts the use of an image for commercial advertising purposes. This means that the image can only be used in editorial content, such as in a newspaper or magazine article, or on a blog or website for descriptive purposes. 

If you are looking to license images for commercial use, there are various photo licensing sites available that offer different types of image licenses, including image license templates and photo license agreements. 

Familiarizing yourself with the different image license types can help ensure that you select the right license for your specific needs.

The Editorial Use Only license is a type of image license that restricts the usage of an image for commercial advertising purposes. However, it can be used in various other ways. 

If you are looking to license images for commercial use, you should consider other image license types available on photo licensing sites. 

Ensure you understand the image license template and photo license agreement before proceeding with the licensing process. Here are the most common rules for editorial license: 

The license can be used:

  1. In a newspaper or magazine article
  2. On a blog or website for descriptive purposes
  3. In a non-commercial presentation

An Editorial Use Only image cannot be used:

  1. Advertising or promotional material
  2. As part of any advertorial sections or supplements for which you get a fee from a third party

5. Creative Commons License

When it comes to licensing images for your website or blog, one popular option is the Creative Commons license. 

Creative Commons Licenses offer a way for creators to share their work while still protecting their rights. 

There are six main types of Creative Commons Licenses, each with its own set of rules and restrictions. Here is all of the creative commons license:

  1. Attribution (CC BY)
  2. Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA)
  3. Attribution-NoDerivatives (CC BY-ND)
  4. Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC)
  5. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA)
  6. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND)

If you plan to license your own images under a Creative Commons license, it’s important to choose the appropriate license type and provide clear attribution instructions. If you need more information about them read our ultimate guide on creative commons licenses

It’s important to ensure that you’re following the terms of the specific license, which usually involves giving proper attribution to the original creator.

6. Public Domain

Public domain images are those that are not protected by copyright and can be used freely by anyone without the need for permission or payment. 

These images can be found in various places, such as some photo-sharing sites. When looking for public domain images, it’s vital to check their source and verify their status to avoid any legal issues.

When using public domain images, it’s essential to be aware of any potential trademark or privacy issues. For example, an image of a recognizable landmark may be in the public domain, but it may still be subject to trademark protection if the landmark is associated with a specific brand. 

Similarly, if an image includes people, it’s important to ensure that you have their consent to use their likeness, even if the image itself is in the public domain.

In conclusion, public domain images can be a great resource for bloggers and website owners looking for high-quality images to use on their sites. 

However, it’s crucial to verify their copyright status and usage regulations and be aware of any potential trademark or privacy issues. By doing so, you can use public domain images safely and legally on your website or blog.

How to Sell Your Licensed Photos?

Now that you know how to license an image, there are tons of options out there for you to sell your image licenses to end users and make money with photography.

One of the best places to sell your licensed photos is through stock photography websites. There are so many options available, with specialized sites for food photography, travel photography, and everything in between. 

When deciding which platform to use, it’s important to be familiar with how they license photos to their users so that you can make an informed decision and ensure you’re comfortable with their photo licensing agreement.

Another viable option is selling your work to publications and magazines, both print and online. Look for outlets that would be a good fit for your type of photography and find out if they’re interested in purchasing a licensed photo from you.

You can also sell licensed use of your images on your website. Many photographers sell prints on their sites. To keep it separate from your other work, consider making a dedicated gallery just for this purpose.

Regardless of where you plan to sell your licensed photos, having an online photography portfolio is crucial for showcasing your work. You can use a portfolio theme to showcase your work. 


What Does It Mean to License an Image?

Licensing an image means obtaining permission from the owner of the image to use it for a specific purpose. The license may include restrictions on how and where the image can be used, as well as the duration of the license.

What Should I Look for in a Licensing Agreement?

When reviewing a licensing agreement, make sure it outlines how you can use the image, any restrictions on usage, the duration of the license, and how much you’ll need to pay for the license. It’s essential to understand the terms of the agreement before finalizing the licensing process.

How Do I Sell My Licensed Image?

If you are the owner of a licensed image, you can sell it through various stock photography websites or directly to individuals or companies who are looking for images to use in their projects. You can also promote your work on social media platforms or by building your own website to showcase your portfolio.


We have discussed the importance of licensing images, as well as the different types of licenses available. We also provided some tips on how to find and use licensed images for your website or blog. 

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your content is legally compliant and free from copyright infringement.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. If you have any questions or concerns about licensing images for your website, please leave a comment below and we will be happy to help.

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