Royalty Free Does Not Mean FREE?

Last Update: June 30, 2019

Be weary of the Free part of Roalty-Free (RF). Here is something I learned this week and wanted to share. The light definitely went on for me regarding this topic!

What Does Royalty-Free Mean When It Comes to Photo's?

“The "free" in royalty-free does not mean there is no cost for the license, but instead refers to being able to freely use the image without paying additional royalties. A small-business owner, for example, may opt to pay a one-time fee for RF images for his website.”

"Copyright law protects the artistic value of original content including art, writing, music and much more. It does not require the artist to fill out any type of paperwork, and is automatically considered to be an intrinsic right the second it is created (not necessarily published)."

"Though the fair use doctrine, a law which allows for use of images as long as they don't affect the creator’s rights, and there is an allowance for many online publishing companies or writers to use certain images. It can be real murky waters, especially if the photos are taken in a private vs. a public environment."

Unless you are a creator like a photographer, graphic designer or freelancer using your own products, before utilizing or implementing any kind of work such as photo's or video's which you do not own, it is important to understand what your options are.

In a recently published article I reviewed the iStock, Pixabay and Shutterstock services. These sites and other's like them have plenty of guidance on the use of their advice is PLEASE READ the fine print. Keep yourself out of trouble!

All three are excellent sources for images, photos, and videos, however all three require a fee of sorts. Some require a monthly subscription while others require a one-time payment for use of their products.

My overwhelming recommendation however, is to stick with their photo library available to us here at WA. I also made this recommendation in my post.

Remember, having to pay a fine can be very costly and embarrassing!

All the best,


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BradB18 Premium
Great advice TomMoto,

I use the Wealthy Affiliate photos as much as possible in Site Content
TimMoto Premium
Yes, I do to actually. It is the safest route. All the best to you.
BradB18 Premium
Cheers mate!
Russ1962 Premium
I use creative commons youtube videos, but not all of the videos listed under the creative commons filter are actually licensed for re-use, so you must remember to double check that they are.

TimMoto Premium
Good advice Russ. Thank you for the heads up.
LauraFuller Premium
Thank you so much. This has concerned me for some time.

TimMoto Premium
You are very welcome Laura. Glad you found value in the post. Have a nice evening. All the best.
muhammab Premium
Well researched!
TimMoto Premium
Thank you sir...much appreciated. All the best.
EdwinBernard Premium Plus
Great advice indeed. Better be safe than sorry.

I have a question. What rights do I have of pictures I took that do not infringe copyright laws? Can someone else modify them and take ownership rights?

How does one prove that the pictures I took are my own and I have exclusive rights to use them?

Just curious.


TimMoto Premium
Good questions and worth following up on. I'll research them and find out Edwin.
TimMoto Premium
I did some research on Google on your questions...if you took the picture and it is your original, you automatically own the copyrights to it and no one can use it without your permission.

Proving the pictures are your own is not something I was comfortable discussing in detail since I am not a copyright expert. One way that come to mind would be to embed your name into the picture, so if it is copied, your name is part of the image.

It is best to follow up on this discussion with a copyright expert.

Thanks for the thoughtful questions, Edwin.
FOta Premium
Thanks, it's quite a challenge looking for real "free" photos.
I think I should get myself a camera to take my own photos.