Stock Photo Prices - Buyout

Posted on 9/8/2008 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Whenever you get a request for a buyout of an images the first thing to do is clarify what the clients means by “buyout”. More often than not, when the client uses gthe term “buyout” their definition is very different from the photographers. The following is our definition of a total buyout of an image:

Total Buyout – The client will have the ability to use the image in any way they choose (unlimited use) in perpetuity (forever), and you will not be able to sell the image to any other client ever again (exclusive) or even use the image for your own self promotion.

These rights should be very expensive (usually tens of thousands of dollars) because the potential use is enormous. Some photographers will not even consider selling these rights at any price because they don’t want to give up total control of their image.

If the client really does want a buyout of the image, the price should be based on your estimation of how much use they will make of the image over time and how much you could have made from the image otherwise, along with other factors such as uniqueness of the image and production costs. We know of photographers who have gotten upwards of $70,000 to $100,000 for a buyout of a single image.

Often when we explain our definition of “buyout” and five the client an idea of what it will cost, it becomes clear that the client does not really need all the rights in our definition of “buyout”. They may need broader rights than one-time non-exclusive, but maybe they only need one of the following (or some other variation):

Unlimited, non-esxclusive – They just need the ability to use the image any way they want (unlimited) for a specificd period of time but they don’t care if we license it to other people during that time (non-exclusive).

Unlimited, industry exclusive – They need the ability to use the image any way they want (unlimited) for a specific period of time and they don’t want us to sell it to any of their competitors. They don’t care if the image is sold to some other client outside of their industry (industry exclusive).

One-time, exclusive – They do have only one specific use in mind (one-time use, not unlimited), but they still don’t want the photographer to license the image to anyone else for a period of time (exclusive).

Copyright © 2008 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, 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:  


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