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Photographers sell their photographs to stock photo shops for a price and royalty agreement. They sell their photographers multiple times retaining the copyright. This forms a good source of income for them. This, essentially, means their photos can be used for certain specified purposes while they retain ownership and all other intellectual rights. The shops are free to sell these photographs with a royalty-free license collecting a fee and allowing the buyer to use the photographs for the approved uses without any bar on time Moreover, buyers need not pay any royalty to anyone. Generally, these shopkeepers split the royalty fee with the photographers. The license specifies the conditions of use. There is a general license but each outlet has their own and therefore it is better to go through the fine print with a magnifying glass. These are royalty-free stock photos. These photos can be used for commercial purposes and one can make profits. However, it is better to confirm the conditions in the agreement one has signed with the shop from which one is buying the photos.
Free stock photos are photos that are free to download by anybody and for any purpose. These photos come under Public Domain or issued under Creative Commons or some other such licenses. Libraries, museums or photographers routinely release good images that are all of the traditional styles. These photos can be downloaded for free and used for any purpose without any limitations. Furthermore, there are images in the Public Domain which never had any copyright, to begin with, or their copyrights have expired. These pictures can be used without any limitations or any payments to anybody.
Users of free stock photos
Advertisers need pictures that can be published in large numbers. It would be uneconomical to pay a royalty for every time a picture is published. Creative artists who create designs for souvenirs, greeting and postcards, book covers, fliers are all consumers of royalty-free stock photos. TV and web commercials are big consumers of free photographs. Calendars, corporate identity documents, letterheads, and presentations are segments in need of high-quality low-cost photographs. These photos are bought by houses and restaurants to adorn the wall. Corporate houses often buy photographs of works of great painters and other high-quality images to adorn the walls. Blog writers on photography and travel, travel magazines also make use of these photographs. In short, all those fields that need to publish or other wise use images repeatedly are users of these photos.