Market Trends

Guide To Image Licenses

By EyeEm - 3 min read

Find out all you need to know about image licenses – both free and commercial.

Finding the right image for your project can be a real headache, particularly when it comes to the legal part: In order to use a photo you find on the internet, you need to first understand what license is has, and what that license allows you to do with the photo.

We wrote this guide to help you get an overview of different licensing types and to keep you from falling into any legal traps. As you’ll learn, this mainly involves understanding the vocabulary that underlies image licensing. It also means being careful: You should be aware that you can’t legally reuse the great majority of photos from the internet. Understanding licenses and correctly using them therefore also means respecting the creator of a work and giving credit (or money!) where credit is due.

What is a Royalty Free Image License?

This type of image license has the explainer right in the name. Royalty free means that a copyrighted work can be used in many different contexts following a one-time fee payment. Royalty-free is a common license type in stock photography. Read More

What is a Creative Commons Image License?

Creative Commons licenses were created by an American non-profit organization of the same name. With the mission to increase the dissemination of creative works, it has created several different, but easy to understand licenses. They allow anything from reusing an image to even modifying it – you just have to understand what each type means. Read More

What is a Copyright Free Image License?

Copyright free means that an image is intentionally released without a copyright by its creator. This means you can do anything with the photo – and don’t even need to credit anyone. Read on to find out more about this type of licensing and where to find these images. Read More

What is a Public Domain Image License

Technically, the ‘public domain’ doesn’t refer to an image license but its very opposite: When a photo is in the public domain, it means the rights of its creators have expired and that the image has become available for the broader public to use – without charge and without having to credit the creator. But be careful: There is no universal standard for when an image becomes part of the public domain, as this depends on the country where it was first created. Read More

Looking for Alternatives?

Give EyeEm a try. Our Market features a selection of more than 60 million photos uploaded by creatives from all over the world. Licenses to EyeEm’s photos are affordable and model releases are on file. Check it out!

Header image by Alejandro Roberto Torrontegui.