While you can use royalty free images in any project for as long as you like, there are certain restrictions that you have to keep in mind. Each stock photo agency has their own sets of prohibitions and conditions that you should be mindful about. Just read and understand the license agreement so you don’t have to worry about legal issues in the future. Anyhow, here are the common restrictions you need to be aware of:
- You cannot share royalty free images with other users or in a network. Unless you acquire a subscription for multiple users, most stock photo agencies do not allow you to share your purchase with other users. You cannot give shared access or transfer the rights as a gift to a third party.
- You cannot resell or distribute the image as it is. You purchase royalty free images to be part of your creative projects. You cannot sell or distribute them as a standalone product. They must be a part of an integral design, such as a t-shirt or banner.
- You cannot use the royalty free images in obscene ways. Obscene projects include pornographic materials and other adult entertainment uses. You cannot also use them in any questionable uses.
- You cannot use images in projects with negative connotation. Especially if the image includes a model or property release, you cannot use them to depict sensitive topics such as sexuality, politics, religion and health.
- You cannot use royalty free images to endorse products and services. You cannot use the images with models in a way like they are pretending to endorse the product directly.
- You cannot use the images as part of a trademark or logo. Since you do not own the image, you cannot register any design that contains it as your own.
Each stock photo agency has their own prohibitions. They may add or remove the above restrictions on the use of their royalty free images. Make sure you read the license agreement, as it includes the terms and conditions of the image use.
Can you use royalty free images in your brand identity?
It is unlikely for you to use royalty free images in your brand identity. You can use them in graphic designs, but you cannot include them in trademarks, logos and design marks as aforementioned. You cannot make it look like as if the models and properties in the image are bound to your brand or are endorsing it directly. On the other hand, you can use the images as part of your marketing and advertising efforts.
Royalty free images are a great way to enhance your creative projects. They are affordable and effective. As long as you do not break any of the royalty free images restrictions provided by the stock photo agency you purchase them from, you can say goodbye to copyright issues down the road.