What Do I Need to Consider in Selling Rights to Photos to a Magazine?
February 7, 2012 9:30 PM   Subscribe

An large-distribution American magazine has asked to purchase rights to photos from my website. What do I need to consider legally and how do I come to a fair price?
posted by phoenixphoenix to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Non-exclusive use (meaning you can license them again), limited term. If the photos inclide people, do you have permission? Figure $200-$300 each.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:46 PM on February 7, 2012

Best answer: They probably have a standard boilerplater legal doc and may or may not be willing to tweak it much. I know with books, we tried to make sure we got lifetime rights (nothing worse than finding out ten years down the line that you want to re-issue a book but the original editor only got rights to use the photos for 5 years, and thus the wild goose chase of re-permissioning all the photos begins...) and ability to re-use in all media (especially electronic/e-book/website/foreign edition/promotion, etc). Some photographers were picky and asked that we request permission for every re-use, which was a hassle for us, but from the artist's perspective, I could see why. So if you really care about how your photos are used, you can try asking for that. Up to you about whether or not you want to still go through with it if they decline on that.

Not sure about magazines (especially large ones; I've only helped out with smaller guys that had zero budget for photos; everything would be contributed for free), but I assume they have a standard rate for photos? $200-$300 sounds like a very fair rate. But maybe less if its a lot of photos. Be glad you're getting paid and that they didn't just slap in some cheap stock images.

Congrats on becoming a professional photographer!
posted by jng at 11:22 PM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Go to a stock image site and price out some rights managed images (not royalty-free), with terms you'd be comfortable with. That would be the very minimum of what I'd accept.

Try Corbis or Getty, for starters.
posted by danny the boy at 12:44 AM on February 8, 2012

Your first question to them should be, "What are the usual rates you pay for something like this?"

At least three or four times in my career, I've been very pleasantly surprised by the answer to that question, and have accepted those rates readily.

Of course, more than a few other times in my career, I've not known whether to laugh or cry over the answer.

One way or the other, a key point is to make sure that you have in writing what specific usages you're granting the publication.
posted by imjustsaying at 4:04 AM on February 8, 2012

There was a question recently about this topic, some of the answers there might help.
posted by PussKillian at 8:25 AM on February 8, 2012

Just as a piece of perspective, the Progressive (which is a hardly a large-circulation magazine) licensed a photo I took at my college newspaper three or four years back and paid $75 for it.
posted by akgerber at 8:38 AM on February 8, 2012

200 might be a fair rate, but so might 2000 or more. The price depends on size of the usage, length of the usage, circulation size, place in the publication and more. Go to Getty's site and calculate a price for a rights-managed editorial usage and fill in all the details the calculator asks for. If you don't know the right values for that calculator, ask for the specifics from the publication. There is absolutely no way anyone here can give a proper price without knowing those details.

And don't get into the mode of thinking that any money here is better than no money. There's a multi-million dollar industry based on licensing images. Make sure you get paid fairly and don't give up anything more than a very limited usage of your pictures. Your most powerful tool is saying "no.". If they balk at your price or anything else, just walk away. You weren't counting on the money, and you shouldn't have to give a cut rate for your pictures just because this isn't your main thing. Once a picture's on the page, it doesn't matter who took it. In fact, the reason they're coming to you (probably) is because they can't find a similar picture at any of the stock libraries where they would get a discount or have a subscription arrangement.
posted by msbrauer at 8:42 AM on February 8, 2012

Getty's site isn't really as useful for your purposes as is say, istockphoto or Pond5. If you price your photo like a Sports Illustrated exclusive, you'll price yourself out of their range.

Non exclusive, print only, in-context promotion, $200 each or so.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:46 AM on February 8, 2012

Getty's site isn't really as useful for your purposes as is say, istockphoto or Pond5.....Non exclusive, print only, in-context promotion, $200 each or so.

This is why photographers have a hard time making a living. And stay as far away as you can from istockphoto. $200 is laughable for a lot of usages. I just licensed a picture to a small circulation magazine for 1/4 page, inside-only, single-use, non-exclusive usage for $560; no digital, no other editions, etc. Sure, it was a photo that not a lot of other places have, but it's a pretty average licensing fee for me.

Look at Getty. I did a quick search for editorial images in the last 24 hours and priced out a small usage. The total is $328 print only, inside, single usage in a weekly with 1 million circulation, up to 1/4 page. That seems a little low, but it might be because they're just redistributing a Washington Post image. I just did another search in the "creative images" category limited to rights managed images. Using the same licensing terms, it's $440. Change the parameters around, and you'll get a different number, but for even a small usage, we're looking at well above $200. Neither of these images are particularly unique or interesting.

Maybe you can up the price a bit because no one else has similar pictures? Maybe you can up the price because the pictures are particularly difficult to get (image taken while cave diving likely cost a little bit more to license than images taken at a 4th of July parade).

The point is, there isn't a clear answer, but $200 is probably too low, and we can't give an answer until we know some more details.
posted by msbrauer at 9:02 AM on February 8, 2012

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