PACA Adopts "Rights Protected"

Posted on 6/23/1998 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



June 23, 1998

The PACA stock agencies that are engaged in what is often referred to
as "traditional stock" have adopted "RIGHTS PROTECTED" as a term to
identify their business model and distinguish it from "royalty free".

PACA encourages all agencies to agressively use this
phrase or the letters "RP" to more clearly define, and separate in
the minds of users the differences between RP images from RF work.

Sellers of "Rights Protected" work, license specific uses to clients and
are able to give clients information as to how particular images have
been used in the past. Such sellers can also control future usages on
an image when necessary.

This phrase resulted from a recommendation by the PACA Technology
Committee, chaired by Bob Roberts from H. Armstrong Roberts. The
recommendation was debated at this year's PACA annual meeting in
New York, and turned over to the PACA executive committee for final

PACA recommends that all agencies who license rights to images
adopt the convention of generally and assertively referring to
themselves as being engaged in the business of licensing rights
protected images, colloquially "RP".


Richard Pasley

Just wondering where this leaves those
photographers and agencies who have
non-exclusive relationships? Does the
term "Rights Protected" imply any sort of
gaurantee to the buyer of images that
their interest in a given image is "protected"
in any way? I can definitely see less
experienced buyers (the very ones that
this terminology has been created for)
presuming that a "Rights Protected" image
protects them, the buyer, and has little or
nothing to do with protecting the rights of
the creator.

Is this a well-crafted ploy by those agents
who indeed do have image-exclusive
relationships to promote their own interests
and agenda at the expense of non-exclusive
agencies and those photographers who serve those

Instead of clarifying the issue, I'm afraid this
will confuse and obfuscate the truly critical
distinction from RF imagery.

Note: Richard Pasley is a photographer in Boston, and also current
President of the American Society of Picture Professionals.

Jim Pickerell Responds to Richard Pasley

After reviewing the various options, the smaller PACA agencies that
represent photographers on a non-exclusive basis also
agreed that "Rights Protected" was the best choice. Operating a "rights protected"
system does not mean that every sale is "rights protected", any more
than every RF sale is Free.

Obviously, there will need to be a lot of explanation with regard to the various
subtleties of the way each RP business operates -- just as in the case
of RF -- but, this is a good starting point.

The term "Rights Protected" does not imply that the buyer is
guaranteed anything. No RP agency -- large or small -- "guarantees" any kind of
protection without discussion with the client about the specific use.

What it means is that agency operates its
business in a way that enables it to track past usage, and restrict future
usages. Thus, if the buyer needs to know how an image has been
used in the past, or to restrict certain future uses, those issues
can be discussed with the agency.

Given the royalty free business model this is something they can never
offer, no matter how hard they try. Thus, it is a distinctive that
clearly separates the two types of businesses.

In many cases the agency may have to go back to the photographer to find out
if a restricted use can be licensed, but the price being charged justifies
the extra work. In some cases the agency will simply have to say, "I can not
offer you a restricted rights license on that image at this time." This, of course,
could also happen with any image found in a major agency catalog, because
another client might have already purchased a restricted use on the image.

Interestingly, surveys have shown that the main reason people buy RF is for
convenience, not low price. Traditional agencies may have given up a great
deal of business to royalty free simply because they have failed to pay
attention to this convenience factor, and because their image delivery model
is so inefficient compared to what many users want and need at this point in time.

Many agencies are now tooling up to supply quick digital delivery. As both RP
and RF move to researching and delivering individual images on the internet,
there may be a new leveling of the playing field.

The principle motivating factor that led to the adoption of this
term was that those in the business of
licensing rights felt they needed a quick short-hand way to clearly separate
their business model from RF in the minds of users. The consensus was that it
needed to be simple and easy to remember as well as being positive and
forward looking.

The problem with "traditional" is that it connotes "backward thinking,"
and trying to hold onto the "old ways" of doing business. It is time to
get modern and move into the 21st century.


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Copyright © 1998 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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