Easy Rights Managed Licensing

Posted on 11/16/2011 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

With its launch of its myPhone Collection Aurora Photos has also introduced a new simplified Rights Managed pricing model they call Easy Rights Managed. “The model offers simple, quick, broad, and managed rights at reasonable prices.” The model is similar in some ways to the Rights-Ready model launched by Getty Images in 2006. Getty later abandoned this experiment.

Aurora’s model has prices for 13 different categories of usage with a single price for each category. The prices range from $10.00 for personal blog use with no advertising to $329.00 for Commercial Print plus Web and Mobile use for up to 1 year. The licenses are for “one project or campaign, one issue or edition for the time period indicated by the usage option selected.”

If a customer is interested in an exclusive use, cover use, use for longer periods than those specified or any use not listed he or she must contact the sales team and negotiate the price. It will be a rare situation that is not covered in one of the 13 categories.

The biggest complaints about Rights Managed licensing are that (1) it is too expensive, (2) too difficult to calculate a price and that (3) there are limits in how the customer can use the image without paying an additional fee. Easy Rights Managed has made it easy to calculate the price and for many users made the costs less than Royalty Free and in some cases less than microstock. Customers are still limited in how they can use the images.


A few things about the specific prices ought to be considered. For inside editorial use print or broadcast or iPad plus web the price is $89.00. But the value for certain print uses is likely to be very different from the value of a broadcast use or an iPad/web use. The web use only price to $49.00. When they add the iPad plus web to either print or broadcast use the price jumps another $40.00 to $129.00. It seems to me that print, broadcast, iPad/web should each have separate categories.

I also question the need for the “up to 1 year” limitation for editorial. In the editorial environment most of the use comes in the initial days, weeks or month. After that the image may reside on a website forever, but it is unlikely to be used repeatedly over a period of time particularly since the allowable term of use for any of these prices is for “one project or campaign, one issue or edition.” That language would seem to cover the time period or reuse issue. Will customers actually pull an image off of a web archive after 1 year? The one year limitation is unenforceable unless it is made clear that at the end of one year (and every year thereafter) a new invoice will be sent and if the image is still available for access from the web then the invoice must be paid.

Retail or Text Books

One of my pet peeves is the pricing for higher circulations of Textbooks. The eRM price of $149 for a circulation of under 100,000 copies during a period of up to 5 years is reasonable, if somewhat low. One thing that is not clear is whether each electronic use is counted the same as a print use. However, where things really start to fall apart is that for another $50 the customer can print an unlimited number of books. Many customers are now printing way more than 1 million textbooks and getting the images for virtually nothing. I would much rather see Aurora eliminate the two greater-than categories and require the customers to negotiate if they need more than 100,000 copies. Even the microstock sellers put a limit on the number of copies of a book or brochure (usually 500,000) before the customer must pay an additional fee. In many cases microstock would be more expensive for the big publishers than purchasing an Easy Rights Managed image.

Commercial Use

Commercial seems to cover all types of advertising, brochure, poster, presentation, packaging, point of purchase, and public relation uses. If the use is just web or mobile the price is $129.00, and for a print use the price is $329.00. Web and mobile are thrown in. Again each one of these use types normally has a different value. The RM price normally depends on how large the use is in any particular category.

The danger here is that many advertising customers and those printing any quantity of brochures will receive a very substantial discount from typical RM prices. It is worth noting that when they launched Rights Ready Getty’s price for Printed Marketing Material use was $800.00 and Print Ad and Marketing Display was $1,150.00. Aurora may sell more volume (on a proportional basis) than Getty did, but how much will they be giving away to high end customers.

It seems to me that they need to deal with the volume of use issue in each category. This could be accomplished with drop down menus that shows a few circulation variation (5 or 6) for each category. This is similar to what I proposed in my Modified Rights Ready pricing strategy published back in 2007. It requires one more click to get a price, but if they are going to stick with a Rights Managed pricing strategy instead of Royalty Free I think it makes more sense.

They also need a “more info” button with each category which allows the customer to get a fuller explanation of the kind of uses that are covered in the category. One of the obvious goals is to offer a pricing system that is as simple as microstock. Most microstock sites have a very extensive explanation of the uses that are Permitted and Not Permitted for the standard prices.


The problem with a single price for Non-Profits is that there are a huge variation in the size of companies that qualify as non-profits. There is the local food kitchen or animal shelter and then these are the American Red Cross, Ford Foundation or the Gates Foundation – and a whole range in sizes and revenue in between. Many can and should be paying a lot more than others for the images they use.

It is also unclear whether a parent looking for a picture to be used on a poster for a fundraiser for their child’s school qualifies as a non-profit.

Making It Simple

While the primary goal was to keep it simple, in my opinion they have added two unnecessary clicks. The customer is asked to choose a, “Country” and an “Industry.” I think both are unnecessary. In order to make a purchase the customer will be required to supply address information and from that Aurora will have the country identified. Knowing the industry is not necessary for a Rights Managed exclusive sale. In the very rare case where the customer needs that information for an exclusive sale Aurora can go back to the individual customers who have used the image and determine exactly how it was used. When the goal is to keep things simple it is important to consider whether it is necessary to collect useless information from 99.9% of your customers just so you can quickly answer a question from the 0.1%.


The goal of developing a simpler Rights Managed pricing structure is a good one. But in an effort to make things easy it is possible to go too far and develop an even more unfair system that Royalty Free or microstock. Easy Rights Managed needs some work.

Copyright © 2011 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


  • Jonathan Ross Posted Nov 16, 2011
    Great read thanks for the information.

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