Welcome to our #PhotographySmartsBlog post about Usage License Explained for Photographers. In this post, we’ll go over the fundamentals of a Usage License and answer some questions:
What is a usage license (UL)?
When should a photographer use a UL?
And most importantly, why should we use a UL?
Last week for our #FreebieFriday, we uploaded a template that you could download and start using right away.
You can see the full post Usage License Template Form for Photographers or download your version instantly here:
Usage License Explained for Photographers
Question: What is a usage license (UL)?
Answer: A usage license is a declaration paragraph that outlines the over-all usage of the images (work) created in a commercial project. It makes it clear; who is the licensee, | who is the licensor, | what is the credit line you want to appear with the work? | what date does the license go into affect, for how long can the work, from the job be used, what are the quantity rights, | what kind of usage license is this, where can the work be used, and where can the work appear. This UL should be printed on each invoice contract you send to your client.
I use a powerful program called Blinkbid and I credit them for this outline. I highly recommend purchasing their software which has been built by photographers for photographers.
As you can see in the picture, Blinkbids interface makes it easy with simple input forms and drop down menus to help build a defined paragraph, which looks like this when complete:
“Subject to the terms and conditions below, Studio Cody Caissie the licensor (“Licensor”) of the work (“Work”) referenced in this document (number CCS56A) hereby grants to Company A defined herein (“Licensee”) an exclusive usage license. This license shall be valid in the following geographic region(s) only: The United States & Canada. This license shall be valid perpetually and shall cover publication of the Work in the following media only: Web-base use Only. The number of reproductions of the Work authorized by this license is ≤ 10. The only credit line to be associated with the Work is “Studio Cody Caissie”. Any other use of the Work by the Licensee shall require a separately negotiated license.”
Let’s break down each sub clause so we better understand them.
Licensee: The “Licensee” is them; your client, or the ad agency that hired you.
Licensor: The “Licensor” is you, since you own the copyright to anything you create. As the licensor you are granting the licensee a license to use your work.
Credit line: Make it clear who gets the credit for the work.
Date: Indicates the start date of the UL.
Lifespan of the images: Some clients only want to pay for 1 year, while some want a
Quantity: The “Quantity of Rights Granted” is when you’re licensing your work to be on a product like a t-shirt a poster. This defines a limit to the number of products that can be created. Leave black if not needed. You can also use this quantity to outline the number of images delivered.
Kind of Usage: An “Exclusive” license means that your work cannot be used anywhere else for the life of the license. A “Non-Exclusive” license allows you to license your work to as many clients as you want and vice versa for the client.
Where in the world: Simply indicates the country where the work will be seen.
Location, Location, Location: If you want to allow the client to use your work in any media, do not select anything in the list. Blinkbid will automatically enter “Unlimited” in the UL. Otherwise, state where the work can be seen, for example, Web only, posters, billboards, etc.
Question: When should a photographer use a UL?
Answer: This answer varies from photographer to photographer but I use it all the time. It doesn’t matter if I am shooting a high end billboard or a simple corporate portrait; it’s good practice to have on paper what the images will be used for.
Question: Why should we use a UL?
Answer: We should use a UL because this living document protects you and the client so that there are no misunderstandings. For example, imagine you shoot a cosmetic line with the usage agreed upon is for web only but then you’re driving down the high way one day and you see that the client used the images for a multi-national billboard ad campaign. How cheated would you feel? By law, you’re entitled to compensation based on the usage license agreed upon.
What do you think? Do photographers need to use a UL? Are you currently using a Usage License?
If you’d like to download our template, you can here:
1.) Download the file and read over so that you understand it before you start using it (see below for explanations).
2.) Replace the red fields “<<your_name>>” “<<client_name>>” “<<job_number>>” “<<number_of_commissioned_photos>>” with your own content.