What Do Royalty Free Images Mean?

We have moved ahead a long way from the days when content on the Internet was all about text. Today, images make up an important element of the content that is put out online. People need to see images for everything possible, be is conceptual images for topics such as relationships, behavior, or actual images for content related to cuisine, travel, or celebrities.

But, every image or illustration is protected by some sort of copyright. If you are looking to use an image that you have not clicked or created, you would need to obtain the required permissions from the owner of that particular image.

What is Royalty?

Basically, a royalty is a fee that is paid to the owner of an item for its use. For example, when a TV channel may need to pay royalties for the number of times a song from a movie is played on their channel. Or, a newspaper would need to pay royalty to an individual for using his image on their newspaper. Items are usually accompanied by an RM (rights-managed) license. It determines on which media it can be used on, how many times, time period, size, etc.

Royalty Free Images

Then there are RF (royalty free) items. Royalty free basically means the copyright comes with lesser restrictions. Free does not in any way mean that an image is free to use. It means, there is a one-time fee, and then the image can be used anywhere, any amount of times, and for however long the user needs to do so. One can then use such images freely without having to pay any additional royalties each time.

There are many companies that sell royalty free images. Businesses and even individuals can subscribe to these websites and choose a suitable plan, and accordingly use their images for their projects, once, or even multiple times. A one-time royalty fee comes into effect, and as such, a website owner can use an image in an article, the same image on a brochure on another page, and for however long her wishes to do so.

Copyright Free Images

There are millions of images that are also freely available for use. These do not require any fee nor do they have a license attached for usage. Such images are in the public domain and are free for use by anyone for any desired purpose. Mostly, these images are those created before the year 1923 and do not fall under US copyright laws, those created by the US government and put out on the public domain no matter when they were created, and other images which are put out by copyright holders for free use as per their wish.

How do I find images that are not copyrighted?

Google image search

So the question will arise, how do you know if any image is copyrighted on Google? It is a simple search that you need to perform on Google. Search for ‘Advanced Image Search’. In the box that says ‘all these words’ key in your search term, below that choose the type of image that you are looking for, like size, color, etc., and then choose file type if necessary. The last and most important step is at the bottom, where you need to click on the ‘usage right’ dropdown, and choose the type of licensed image you are looking to use. Ideally, if you want to use any image on your blog, or for any other commercial use, you would need to choose the option that says ‘free to use, share or modify, even commercially’. You would then find images that are either labeled Creative Commons, Free Images, Free to Use, or Public Domain. You are free to use only these kinds of images for your work, and not others.

Royalty Free Images Vendors

If you are looking for long-term use and a good subscription, you should tie up with a royalty-free image provider. There are many options to choose from, like


Stock Ulimited



Getty Images


Now that you are absolutely certain about the different kinds of images available in relation to their copyrights, first be sure of your needs and then determine which option would be best suited for you. If you have a website or a small business, it would be wise to go in for a subscription that gives royalty free images to be used. They have different plans and offers according to everyone’s needs. Choose one that fits best into your plans of usage.