Negotiating "Life of Edition" Rights

Posted on 4/27/2011 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Some textbook publishers have begun to ask photographers to invoice them for the right to use images for the “life of the edition” of a book. The following is the language from one such request. "Please bill us for publication rights for the life of the edition. … we would like by this permission request to sell additional units through the life of the edition...."

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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, 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:  


  • Charles Cecil Posted Apr 30, 2011
    This strategy makes good sense if the photographer is lucky enough to deal directly with the publisher. In my case, many of my images are used in textbooks, but they are licensed through Alamy, or occasionally a second stock agency that handles my material. In the last couple of years Alamy has often offered the client 15 years usage for print runs of either 3 million or "unlimited." But needless to say, the prices Alamy asks when they give those unlimited 15-year rights are nowhere near ten times what a two-year license or a 40,000 print-run would be.

    I think it's far more important to control the size of the print edition or the number of online views than the number of years. Most textbooks don't have a life of more than 5 years before a new edition is issued, so these requests for 10 or 15 years seem more theoretical than real. (I've had several cases where "life of edition" has only been about three years.) A new edition will lead to a request to re-use an image long before 10 years or a million copies of a work are reached.

    In the last year I've also noticed an increase in the number of images licensed for use as a "two-page spread." Sometimes these are even vertical images, very unsuitable to use in a two-page format. I'm wondering if this is a way of giving the publisher carte-blanche to use the image in any size they could possibly want, but I can't figure out why they would request and pay for a size larger than they actually need. Any thoughts?

    I'd prefer to deal directly with the publisher. Unfortunately many of them go to the mega-agencies rather than spend time searching the smaller collections of individual photographers.

    Chuck Cecil/Cecil Images

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