Licensing your photography for real estate

Licensing your photography for real estate


Today I’m going to talk about the most exciting subject in all of photography… licensing. I’ve studied photography since 2005 when I first started out as a professional photographer And I have a pretty solid understanding of how licensing works and I thought you all might be interested and hearing this information Full disclosure. I’m not an attorney. This isn’t legal advice. This is really just a very Paraphrased explanation of how I’ve come to understand it over the years and U.S. Copyright law is pretty complicated. But as it relates to photography what it says is that it basically states that somebody who takes a photo that Person is the exclusive owner of that photo immediately. They own the copyright. They have the right to reproduce and Redistribute that photograph however, they want and they can display it However, they want as well now to avoid copyright infringement The way you would allow people to use your photos for commercial purposes such as a real estate listing is through licensing Now this all gets pretty complicated and I’m going to start off by using an analogy like music It translates pretty well so now when you purchase a song on iTunes for $0.99 You’re not buying that song. You don’t own the song you’re buying a license to download and use that song for personal use When I make a video for real estate I have to license that song each time and there’s going to be a fee associated with that each time that I pay for if you want to use an extreme example that everybody’s familiar with if You’re a car company and you want to use 30 seconds of that song “Like a Rock” to sell your trucks You have to license that 30 seconds of that song for that specific use and at that point you’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars in licensing fees Basically the same principles apply to photography. If you hire a photographer to photograph your family, for example You’re gonna pay a relatively low fee like a hundred to five hundred dollars Depending where you’re at just to be able to hang those photos in your home or share them on social media But you wouldn’t be able to take those photos and sell them to a company like Starbucks for example for an ad campaign They’d actually need to License those photos from the photographer. And of course the photographer would have to get your written consent But legally the photographer owns the copyright and not the family. When it comes to real estate photography It’s very similar and it really all boils down to the amount of images and the use or distribution And ultimately the value of those images or the potential return on investment of those images. Now on the higher end you have commercial marketing campaigns for larger brands where the images are going to be used for Magazines large print etc Typically those shoots are thousands to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the photographer and the distribution in most cases you’re looking at Tens or hundreds of thousands if not millions for the return on investment of those images Which is why there’s a higher rate for photographers and Their shoot fee and their licensing now if we go down a notch to say a residential designer or a builder or an architect the licensing fees associated with that are often determined by the amount of images and their use Typically only a handful of images might be needed and it’s gonna be for social media website and possibly some print ads most designers are national so you’re likely not going to be dealing with a national campaign meaning that the distribution and the eyeballs on that are gonna be very limited and The licensing tends to be on a per image basis plus the shoot fee. now on average design shoot could range anywhere from a few hundred To a few thousand dollars depending on all the variables now with these you can expect a long-term return on investment of thousands If not tens of thousands from new clientele. Now we have real estate listings. These are a very limited use, they are very limited distribution and There’s a very limited amount of time spent on location and in editing for the photographer. So for real estate the photos aren’t selling the Realtor or a service or selling a home and typically the Listing agreement only lasts for about six months to a year and then the images really aren’t used again This is why you can hire a photographer over just a couple hundred dollars you get 25 images on for a real estate listing. With professional images you’re often going to see Thousands of dollars as a return on your investment because of your commissions. Now remember we’re talking about licensing here. I just want to remind you’re not paying for the photos themselves. You’re paying for the license Meaning you wouldn’t own the photos. You really can’t do what you want with them You’d have to your licensing the use of the images for the sale of that property The images can’t be given to the Builder, a designer, property management company. They can’t be sold to another agent to be used if your listing expires All of those things would legally be considered copyright infringement And those images would actually need to be relicensed through your photographer and there’s typically a cost associated with that it’s really a standard across the industry and the main reason is because if you’re using a professional Photographers work to potentially earn thousands of dollars that photographer should be compensated for that I hope this helped to shed just a little bit of light on this subject if you weren’t already familiar with it This isn’t something we talk about often if ever and I just wanted to be sure to cover this topic as best as I could in a short amount of time Please let me know if you have any questions on this topic. I’ll be happy to answer them. But in the meantime Thanks so much for watching. We’ll see you next week with a brand new episode

10 thoughts on “Licensing your photography for real estate

  1. I wish i knew UK photogs that talk about this. Real simple explanation

  2. Love it!! Very easy to digest! 👍

  3. Can you do a video, detailing on making a license for the photos? Thanks! (^_^)

  4. This is really great stuff Jordan!

  5. This video is great, and the analogy with iTunes music purchase is something I'll use to explain to people. High level, but helpful.

  6. Good information. A little wordy in the beginning. The music analogy was good but then I'd rather you cut to the chase right afterwards to the real estate photography. It's going to lose Realtor's in the technical jargon.

  7. Really helpful video: essential viewing for photographers, as well as clients looking to commission photography: thank you !

  8. Very good video. Thanks. I am going to reference the link to this video for future clients who quibble about ownership. ALL photographers should know about copyright. Unfortunately many don't, and they give their images away. That then taints the expectations of RE agents who think they own the photos anytime they hire a photographer. Some agencies expect photographers to sign over copyright, with which I have no problem, as RE photos have a short shelf life for me and have little value beyond the initial photo shoot. But if I think the images have a resale potential for stock photography then that is a different conversation. 🙂

  9. Great video – net’s everything out in a straightforward manner. I’ve used that music analogy for years. Thanks Much

  10. An important factor not addressed here is that Realtors almost always use the photos on the MLS and the MLS will likely have its own requirements regarding copyright, licensing and ownership. See below for an excerpt from our local MLS rules and regs. Do you have recommendations on how to take this into account?

    11.5 Media on the MLS.

    a) Media is defined as any depiction or expression of works including, but not limited to, photographs, images, drawings, renderings, audio, video, and virtual tours.

    b) By submitting any media to the MLS, the Participant and Subscriber represent and warrant that they own the right to reproduce and display the media or they have procured such rights and all necessary licenses from appropriate parties.

    c) The submitting Participant and Subscriber grants CRMLS an irrevocable, unrestricted, transferable, perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive license (with right to sublicense) to use, store, reproduce, compile, display and distribute the media as part of its compilation.

    d) Use of media by any subsequent Participant and Subscriber requires prior written authorization from the submitting Participant and Subscriber or other appropriate party with the legal right to grant such authorization.

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