Your gateway to the World of Royalty-free photos, illustrations, icons, videos, music loops, fonts and more.
What exactly does royalty-free mean?
Royalty-free describes material (typically graphics such as stock photography and icons, but also sound such as music loop samples) that may be used for profit, without paying royalties. Royalty-free media is usually acquired for a 'one time only' fee, although public domain imagery and many works created under a copyleft license are also usable without paying royalties or an initial fee.
In commercial design, publishing, advertising, web design, etc., images are used as a key to awaken interest in a text or to illustrate it, or may stand on their own. Picture editors rely heavily on the millions of images that are available from various sources. This saves time and the considerable expense of hiring photographers to shoot on location. It was once usual for a picture buyer to browse through a photo library’s stock or to have a selection delivered from which to choose. The Internet has drastically changed the way in which pictures are browsed; with today’s digital delivery methods, images may be searched for and acquired online.
The use of a stock photograph from a photo library may be also charged on a Rights Managed license basis for a specific, one-time use at a rate determined by a combination of factors: the time for which it is required, the purpose, the print run or circulation of the publication, territory, etc.
There is also "royalty-free" stock photography, particularly microstock photography. This does not mean that an image may be used without payment. What it means is that a one-time fee or subscription gives the right to use an image in a publication according to the terms agreed upon, with no license fees being paid for further use.
Many true free-picture agencies exist today. Organizations such as this strive to make available pictures to the Internet community, charging nothing for them but with the expectation that users will publicise the provider in every way possible. In this case the images are free for non-commercial use.
There are other websites that offer free images. These images are not to be considered as "Public Domain" images. It is important to read the Terms of Usage, and to remember that according to the copyright laws, the author is the copyright owner. The author has the right to do anything with the image, including later on removing it from a free picture website and start selling it. In doubt contact the author to ask for written permission.