Current licensing agreements on all the stock photography agencies are unclear as to what licensing is required for iPhone, iPad and Android apps. There is no specific licensing section for this new digital media. Stock photography forums and design employees debate this question constantly as the licensing agreements are up for interpretation. When a stock photography agency is called, the answer has been inconsistent but the conclusion for now is an extended license is required. The app discussions dissect the following issues; how the image is used, compare similar design uses, the licensing agreements that currently apply to electronic media, and the purpose the image serves on the app.
Using an image as an app cover photo
If an image is used to sell or promote the app, similar to the cover of a book, or a greeting card, a royalty free image seems sufficient. The logic is that the image is used to market the actual product, the image is not the product. An image on a book cover is used to help sell a story, or an an image on a greeting card is used to sell a card. This seems to be able to apply with an iPhone or iPad app if used as a cover photo. But it is not clear.
Using the image as a template
If the iPhone or iPad app is a giveaway, or free app, and the image is used in a template, it would seem that a royalty free image would be acceptable. If the the iPhone or iPad template for an app is for resale, then an extended licence would apply.
Downloads and the success of the App
No one can predict the success of an iPhone or iPad app. With over an estimated 100M iPhone and iPad users, an app could be downloaded hundreds and thousands of time. If your app goes viral and users love it, you could go over the allowable copy limit.
Purchased verses Free App
The distinction of ‘resale’ verses ‘giveaway’ makes the licensing choice very clear. If your iPhone or iPad is sold to others, images require an extended license. If your app is for free, a royalty free image should be sufficient. In all stock photography agency agreements, free or promotional materials only require royalty free images.
Apple licensing requirements
Like facebook, Apple has very clear licensing agreements for the use of their own images and very clear Apple developer agreements for apps. Apple has not defined or addressed the licensing requirements for app images or defined what is essential licensing requirements for the images used on an app that will be sold in their app store.
The final decision…for now
If you are creating an iPhone or iPad app, stay on the side of caution and buy an extended license. There are too many variables with this electronic application. An extended license is worth the extra money considering what it could cost to defend your choice for using a Royalty Free image incorrectly. The extra cost also balances out the cost to hire a photographer or designer to create a unique image for your iPhone or iPad app.
A filtered search on any of the stock photography agency websites is possible so that only images with an extended or Rights Managed licensing agreement show up in your search.
Image: © mbbirdy / iStockphoto.com