From Criminal to Superstar: 3 Image Licensing Secrets

3 Image Licensing Secrets

Remember when it was easy enough to snap a photo on a fam trip and use it in your next newsletter?

Remember when you had to spend huge dollars to buy an image to use in a newspaper ad?

Remember when… back in the ‘good ol’ days’ of travel marketing there were only a few sources for images and only a few reasons to use them.

Now, we’re so dependent on visual marketing!   “74% of social media marketers use visual assets in their social media marketing.”  Source

Where We Use Images

Every day we find we can have a stronger impact with images.  You’ve probably seen this stat:  “Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65%.”  Source

Picture all the ways you use images every day!  Some of the most common are here:

Photo and Image uses for travel and tourism pros

Fact or Fib?

“I can just Google and use any image from my search!”

If you said Fib you’re absolutely right!  Just because you can search the internet and physically copy and save an image doesn’t mean you can use it legally.  Artists, photographers and designers, like travel consultants, are professionals and need to be paid for their expertise. 

True story:  a travel agent in California found a great looking image on a Google search, copied it and used it in a marketing piece.  The photographer contacted the agent and a legal battle ensued. The travel agent was fined $10,000!  That kind of coin isn’t in my marketing budget and maybe not in yours, so here’s what we can do instead.

Finding images and using them without breaking the law is a challenge.


Free resources


Understanding Photo Licensing

Let’s break down photo usage rights and focus on how we can find and manage our image libraries.

There are 3 types of photo licensing and we’ll explore each briefly and highlight the details.

  1. Rights Managed Images

This license gives you exclusive and time-specific rights to use an image.  Rights Managed licensing is given on a pay-per-use basis.  This means that you pay for the exclusive right to use the image during a specific time and in a specific way. While it may appear more expensive, you have exclusivity and can see the history of the image.  This way you’ll know who else has used it and others will not be able to use it while you’re under contract for the image.

Sources of Right Managed Images:  Getty Images

More info

Facts & Fibs here

  1. Royalty Free Images

This license gives you full freedom to use the photo wherever and whenever you want.  You pay a one-time fee and you can use it multiple times and in multiple ways.  While it is less expensive, you cannot give the image to colleagues to use (they can get their own license) and anyone else with the license can use it at the same time as you.

Sources of Royalty Free Images:  CanStock, Fotolia, Getty Images

More info

Facts & Fibs here

  1. Public Domain Image License

Images in the public domain are free from copyright restrictions and are free for commercial and personal use.  The artist has relinquished all rights.  The only exception is if you are using an image of a recognizable person, you may need to get their permission to use their image.  Harvard law school library recommends providing attribution on public domain images, although it’s not required.

Sources of Public Domain Images:  Pixabay, Morguefile

More info

Facts & Fibs here

Now that you’re an image sourcing whiz, where will you look for images for your next creation?

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Free Resources

Social Marketing Strategies for Travel and Tourism

About Catherine Heeg

Catherine Heeg is a recognized social media trail blazer passionate about social media and marketing in the tourism and hospitality industry.

She creates and delivers meaningful, dynamic workshops that meet your unique needs in the Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Industry. She and her team help travel, tourism and hospitality pros design and implement social media marketing strategies and tactics that drive traffic to their social and web sites.  Learn more…

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By Catherine Heeg


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