Question of the Day: Image use in Canada

Photo from

Photo from

What do you recommend to a client who wants to use (A) a rights managed image on their website or for social media, or  (B) re-post or use something found on social media?

To begin with, rights managed (RM) images are a type of usage license for a stock photo and are issued on a pay per use basis. The main benefit of using a RM image is that you can get exclusive rights to the stock image during the license duration. No other individuals or groups can use the image during your license period. However, RM images are typically more expensive than royalty free (RF) images (non-exclusive, unlimited use of an image). Licensing fees are based on:

  • Exclusivity
  • Image Size
  • Image Resolution
  • Medium
  • Duration of Use
  • Geographic Territory
  • Industry/Market
  • And other factors

Clients should be aware that RM images can be used in websites and social media as long as they have exclusive rights to the stock image, however, they may commit copyright infringement if and/or when their license to the RM image expires (rights may be bought by another individual or group). Royalty free images or free stock images under the Creative Commons Zero may be more beneficial for your client for long-term projects. Your client can buy a RF image or use free stock images without worrying about an expiring license, however, free stock images can be used worldwide, RF images can be bought by other organizations, and both options may possibility hinder the effectiveness of the image for your client.

Also advise your client that they should investigate the terms and conditions of any and all social media platforms (such as Instagram) regarding posting or re-posting content found on social media.

For example, in the About Copyright section on Instagram‘s website it states:

In most countries, copyright is a legal right that protects original works of authorship (ex: books, music, art). Generally, copyright doesn’t protect facts and ideas, but it may protect the original words or images that express an idea.

Instagram also mentions that:

Disclaiming ownership of the original material, or giving credit to the copyright owners, also doesn’t necessarily mean you’re authorized to use it. If you’re not sure if you own the right to the content you want to post, or whether the content might infringe someone else’s copyright, please seek legal guidance before posting it on Instagram.

In other words, it is highly recommended that your client invests in legal guidance before posting or re-posting anything found on social media as copyright terms and conditions are not necessarily standard across all social media platforms.

To learn more about copyright protection and a list of country-specific copyright websites, visit the World Intellectual Property Organization’s directory.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *