Pricing and licensing: the importance of licensing terms

A comment from James Cook on the continuing series of posts on pricing and licensing tools points out the importance of the actual licensing terms.

In most cases when you price photo licensing you agree terms for a specific use, especially if it is traditional “rights managed” (RM) licensing and not “royalty free” (although “RF” also comes with terms of use, which is often forgotten).

If those licensing terms are vague or inaccurate you may be setting the wrong price or it may lead to unexpected or unintended use of the pictures. It can be bad for the photographer as well as bad for the customer. It is certainly bad for the supplier-client relationship. It is always good to be clear on what the agreement is!

A bill and money on the table in a restaurant

A bill and money on the table in a restaurant

James describes it like this:

Pricing and licensing are separate items that fit very tightly together like shutter speed and aperture. One without the other can severely diminish the value of the result.

No matter how accurately you calculate the value of a license, if the license itself isn’t well written the quoted price may be way off for the potential uses. An inadequately defined license can leave the door open for considerably more usage than intended even with a well intentioned end user.

Even the best books on licensing don’t provide good models of what a proper license should look like.

James then points to a software tool that can help manage licensing terms: the METAmachine:

Among the primary features of METAmachine is an easy to use licensing pane that lets you build and save license templates using your own terms or some of those included in the software. It’s the only desktop software that I know of (aside from InView) that includes the complete PLUS Media Terms, all menu driven to build airtight licenses.

Assembled licenses can be copied and pasted into other apps or documents, but best of all they can be written right into images as metadata without disrupting any other existing metadata, if desired.

Here’s more information on the METAmachine. It is a sister product from the pricing tool from Hindsight Ltd that I have mentioned previously (see the list in the sidebar and related posts).

I should perhaps add that, from what it seems, James Cook is actually the author and publisher of the METAmachine.

I have not tried the METAmachine myself so I don’t really have any opinions about its benefits or limitations, but I certainly agree with James that agreeing clear and well defined terms is important. In photography as well as in any other business.

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