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Royalty Free Images - the scope of the standard license.

Easy and simple is the nature of the standard license

So verwenden Sie Stockfotos

Are royalty-free images free? Do royalty-free images come with a license?

Contrary to the word "free" that's part of their name, royalty-free images are not free. They are also not "free" from a license and therefore cannot be used without a license. The name has historical roots and comes from a time in the nineties of the last century when, for example, unrestricted usage licenses for 50 images were acquired with the purchase of a so called Royalty-Free CD. These could could then be used "freely" without having to report details of every single use and pay fees for such uses. At the time this was a novlety as it was the standard to license images for a specific use which were defined in great detail.

In the late nineties, when the image industry switched to the Internet, images began to be sold individually for unrestricted use under the established term "royalty-free" in order to differentiate them from the form "Rights Managed", which was primarily used at the time. You were still "free" from having to purchase new licenses for individual uses or "free" from purchasing another license for extending usage periods whichwas the standard for the then still predominant form of license "Rights Managed". So to be clear: Royalty-free images are not free and also have a license that clearly defines what is allowed and what is not allowed in use. And yes, we do pay our artists a royalty, too.

What uses of royalty free images are covered by the standard license?

All royalty free images licensed under the PantherMedia standard license may be used without print run restriction, worldwide, without limits, in all media, including social media. This pertains to the right of use of the photography, but not content contained therein. It is up to the user to decide if possible rights of third parties within the photography have to be obtained. For royalty free images marked "Model Release" the rights regarding the depicted persons have already been clarified and granted. Similarly, this applies for a "Property Release" related to the location in which the photograph was taken.

Royalty free images may be modified as long as changes do not cause any disadvantages for the author, the model(s) shown or other third parties, eg. by violation of moral rights, reputation damage, property rights. In no case may the contents be distorted or defaced by such processing.

The licensed content may be used in all media, eg. online use of any kind, social media, print use, TV, cinema, theater, videogrammes (CD, DVD, etc.), interactive and multimedia use, etc.

What am I not allowed to do?

An royalty free image's license may not be transferred to a third party. As an exception, the right to use the content may be transferred to a single third party, provided that the retransmission takes place within the framework of the fulfillment of a customer's project, e.g. through an advertising agency. Repeated use in projects for different customers is not permitted. In this case, a new license must be purchased for each customer.

Royalty free Images with the standard license may not form the basis or the main component of a retail product, merchandise or template. This applies in the event that the content is offered as part of a product for resale (resale product = merchandise that is not offered for free, but offered for sale, such as, but not limited to, calendars, posters, postcards, canvases, cups, toys, stuffed animals, sporting goods, household -, bathroom and kitchen wares, clothing, illustrated books, website, e-mail or print templates, etc.). Image uses on items for advertising and promotional purposes are covered by standard sicense).

For use with retail products, merchandise and templates, an extended license must be purchased.

Pictures marked with the words "for editorial purposes only" may only be used for editorial purposes (e.g. reporting, educational materials). Use of such images for any advertising purposes whatsoever, on websites with customer magazine character, customer magazines or similar is not permitted.

Expressly prohibited uses

Royalty free images (and any media licensed from PantherMedia) may not be used for pornographic, sexist, defamatory, slanderous, racist, minority or religiously injurious representations.

In addition, it is forbidden to use a royalty free image in a manner which degrades the author or the depicted person / s or if it can be assumed that the author or the depicted person (despite the existence of a so-called model release) would not agree to the use of the intended publication. For clarification, this applies to any images that present a person in a potentially personal or sensitive context, including sexual or implied sexual acts or preferences, drug abuse, addiction, crime, physical or mental abuse, suffering, or political opinions or any other situation that would legitimately be offensive to any person represented in the content (eg dating sites, escort services, erotic offers, pornographic offers, youthful websites, political portals / advertising). In this case, explicit written consent of the depicted person must be obtained via PantherMedia (for a flat fee).

Furthermore, use as, or as part of, a trademark, design, logo or company brand is not permitted.

Extended Licenses for Royalty Free Images

For some uses, extended licenses are available to extend the standard license to include, for example, commercial products for retail or templates.

These are:

The Group License that allows for the transfer of the license to affiliates, franchisees or any entity associated with a corporation. The content may also be used in all media in the context of press releases.

The extended Merchandise License is used to supplement the standard license with the permission to use images for the production and sale of articles of all kinds, including electronic and print templates.

A few words on the copyright notice regarding Royalty Free Images

In the context of a use for advertising purposes, the placement of the copyright notice is not required for Royalty Free Images licensed from PantherMedia. In the context of a use for editorial purposes the copyright notice is mandatory and required in the usual manner for the respective use and as far as technically possible on the content itself to cite both PantherMedia and the username of the author in the following form when dispalying the content: "© of the author".

Find more information here

Other key items to be aware of:

Overview and comparison of key aspects of the standard license
Detailed terms of the license in our terms of trade

Energize your designs. Start a search right here.

Any further questions?

We are happy to answer any questions personally! We look forward to hearing from you!

Contact us

Mo. - Fr. 9:00 - 18:00
+49 (0)800-Panther (free of charge)
+49 (0)800-7268437 (free of charge)
+49 (0)89-2000 213-0


If you are in the UK or Ireland please contact us directly via email at: tmorgan[at]

If you are in India, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka please contact us directly via email at: salesindia[at] .