Facts about the Photo Licensing Agreement template

What Is a Photo Licensing Agreement?

If you have ever created or used commercial photos, then you may have come across a photo licensing agreement before. Websites that provide free photos for commercial use generally post a small notice that you automatically agree to when you use the photo. This may or may not include crediting the photographer or model. On paid websites or when contracting paid photography services, the photo licensing agreement is more detailed. It also requires an explicit agreement.

Photo licensing agreements constitute a contract between the entity that owns the intellectual property rights and the entity that wants access. Sometimes, the entity is a person, but it may also be a business or brand. The contract details the terms of use for the licensed material. This may include digital files or physical prints. The license agreement may also take place directly or via a third-party platform.

Some people extend photo licensing agreements to cover other types of licensed content, such as vectors, photo-manipulations, illustrations, basic infographics, and videos. Legally, these works tend to receive the same intellectual property protections as photographs do. Because of this, photographers who also create these works may only use one photo licensing agreement to cover everything.

What is a Photo Licensing Agreement used for?

The most important use of a photo licensing agreement is to ensure visual creators maintain ownership of their works. It prevents other artists or brands from using the work as part of their own creations without giving something in return, such as a photo credit, use of the logo or payment.

Photo licensing agreements also help photographers prevent their works from becoming part of projects they do not wish to be associated with. For example, some photographers only make their works available for editorial pieces, such as newspaper content. Others might prevent the use of their works in content related to religion, politics or other touchy topics.

Why should you use a Photo Licensing Agreement?

Once a photographer takes a photo, it belongs to him or her. This person has the right to seek compensation if someone uses that work without permission, especially for a controversial or commercial purpose. Image licensing agreements establish legal ownership and increase the likelihood of appropriate usage and payment.

You Are a Photographer

Even if you are only a hobby photographer, it might surprise you how many brands may reach out for permission to use your photograph. Create a photo licensing agreement just in case.

You Are a Model

Models have some ownership over their image and likeness but do not have the same rights as photographers. You may use a photo licensing agreement to complement your model release to establish ownership.

You Own a Business or Brand

Visuals play a crucial role in marketing and PR. You need photo licensing agreements to present to smaller or amateur photographers who may not immediately have one at the ready.

How to write a Photo Licensing Agreement

If you are the photographer, why do you take photos and why would you allow anyone to use them? This is the first question you need to answer before moving forward. If you only take photos for fun, you might not care much about money. Getting credit for your work may help you build a platform. If you plan to make a living from photos, however, payment should be part of your contract.

If you are the photographer or the model, what are your values and how will your allowed photo usage tie into this? If you feel more connected to your work, you may not want it involved with certain subject matters or brands. This is especially important if you included other brand symbols in your photo, such as a clothing line you own, a book you published, or your face.

If you feel you are not up to the task of writing an agreement on your own, you can seek legal counsel. Note that this is likely to be the most expensive route. Most attorneys charge by the hour. A more economical alternative is to use a template that meets your state’s requirements. You can then edit the template to include this and other information you may need:

  • The intellectual property owner or licensor

  • The entity purchasing licensing rights or licensee

  • Accompanying model releases, where applicable

  • Details of the intellectual property

  • The jurisdiction that governs the contract

  • Length of use or number of uses

  • Allowed purposes

  • Compensation (Licensing fee, credit, etc.)

  • Permission to use owned trademarks that appear in the photo, such as logos

How to Fill Out a Photo Licensing Agreement with PDFSimpli in Five Steps

Whether you are a model, business person or photographer, filling out the photo licensing agreement can feel overwhelming. Following these steps can help you simplify the process:

  • 1. Preparation:

    Gather all the information you need. This includes existing contracts, such as those on third-party platforms and commissioned work for clients. Review these contracts to ensure they do not conflict with the photo licensing agreement you plan to write. For instance, if one client owns exclusive licensing rights to Photos A and B, you may not have the right to share those with another client.

  • 2. Software Choice:

    In the business and creative industries, relationships and client needs change on a regular basis. You may need to make occasional changes to your photo licensing agreement to accommodate those changes. Plan ahead by choosing software that allows you to make these edits and save them with ease. PDFSimpli provides these features for free during the trial period.

  • 3. Completion and Editing:

    Filling out the agreement may feel like the most nerve-racking part of the process. If you opted out of seeking legal advice, it might not hurt to reach out to colleagues for advice. Experienced photographers may feel up to sharing what they included in their agreements.

  • 4. Review:

    Your photo licensing agreement affects your relationship to the intellectual property in question for as long as it remains in effect. One simple mistake could cost you, so always take the time to review each section carefully. Don’t let people rush you through the review process. Take a day between reviews if you need to.

  • 5. Send:

    Once you have completed a thorough proofread, you can save, print and send. Remember to retain a signed and unsigned copy of the contract for future use. It is not uncommon for professionals to include a time-limit clause, which makes the offer valid for only that predetermined period. This puts some pressure on the individual to sign more quickly.

Photo Licensing Agreement Frequently Asked Questions

An exclusive license gives the licensee full rights to the IP as its sole user. A sole license allows the original owner to use the work, but he or she may lose the right to issue additional licenses. Previous users may continue to use the work. Most photographers issue a non exclusive license. These allow them to re-issue licenses to other parties, such as via a third-party platform.

If you take a photo of someone and allow commercial use of the photo, you need that person’s signed agreement. Otherwise, you may violate that person’s right to privacy and ownership over their own likeness. Things become even more complex when the individual is a minor. You may only need this as a separate model release form if the other party specifically requests one. In other instances, you may include the model release in the body of the photo licensing agreement.

If you upload your work to a third-party platform, it usually pays you a few cents per download or use of your work. If you have a direct agreement with a brand or business, most per-use agreements become too cumbersome. Instead, you may consider the following:

  • Monthly retainers

  • Payment per bulk order of photographs

  • Upfront deposits to cover subsequent per-use payments