Copyright and image licensing

What is it?

In the digital image making age, it’s easy (and understandable) to be confused about the need for image licensing.

It exists to protect both parties – the photographer and you, as the client. The license is a mutual agreement about how an image is used. If an image was made specifically for your exclusive use, but ended up being used without permission by your competitor or other channels, it makes it easier to track down the responsible party.

As the photographer, Wayne owns the copyright to every image that is captured and made by Wayne. This is based on copyright laws in all countries around the world.

An image license is provided for you based on how you will use the image. This includes:

  • Type of usage (commercial, editorial or retail)
  • What channels it will be used in (online or print)
  • Size of the image provided
  • Duration
  • Distribution region (local or global)

Image license costs will be adjusted according to the usage.

Types of image licenses


A photo created that is used to sell or promote a product, service, or idea. This includes any photo or image made for advertising, marketing, and promotional activities.


Photos and images used for the journalism and education fall into this category. People and objects that are featured in the images not licensed for commercial usage can be used for the news, magazines, educational books and blogs.


These are images and photos purchased for a client’s own personal use. Weddings, family portraits, pet photography and fine art projects are a perfect example of this.

Licenses are granted for print reproductions only. If an image will be used for profit, a different license agreement and cost will apply.

Why doesn’t the client own the copyright to an image?

By law, the copyright belongs to the photographer at the time the image is created – in other words, when the trigger has been pushed to make the image.

Copyright can be bought, with the appropriate fee.

Why is there a limit on how long an image can be used for?

Licenses typically last between 1 to 3 years. Extensions and being able to use it forever can be discussed. However, in an age where consumers demand fresh content, it’s quite easy to spot a brand that hasn’t updated their images with the times. On average, an image can be considered out of date after two years especially if it’s been in high rotation.