Not a Blox question - Charging for photo reprints for commercial use

Andrea 11 months ago in BLOX CMS • updated 11 months ago 4


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We are a small, locally owned newspaper in Huntington, W.Va. Our daily circulation is around 26,000, and Sunday circulation is about 28,000.

We often get requests to license our photos for commercial use, such as books. I have been tasked to research what other newspapers charge for such things.

Does anyone have a rate structure they could share?




I handle all the licensing requests for our paper, my background as a photographer helps here.

We normally allow other newspapers to use our photos for free, who knows when we'll need something from them right? But magazines and especially television must pay for a license before any usage is granted.

• You're already on the right track terms wise by using license, remember you are never selling your photos.

• The size of your publication will have no bearing on how much you charge.

• Pricing is always based on the usage granted. One-time use on a billboard in northern Ohio won't cost as much as worldwide rights for an HBO documentary production. It is very hard to have a standard rate structure as there are just so many variations.

• Be very specific in the terms that you are granting. A few simple language variances can mean the difference between the photo being able to be used just once or over and over.

• You can almost always get more money then you initially think. Especially if the license is related to a television production.

• Require mandatory credit for both the photographer and the publication.

• Remember that by default you cannot grant licenses for freelancer's work, only photographs produced by staff members that you own the copyright to.

ASMP has a good primer on licensing and a ton of other topics. The NPPA also has a pricing photography guide, that while mostly geared toward freelancers, has some helpful information in it.

Now we have settled on a few "standard" minimums for requests we get all the time. For example a very frequent request I deal with is for television production companies who want to use a newspaper clipping, showing the headline of a story, the beginning of the text and maybe a photo. We won't go any lower than $250 for this, less than five seconds screen time in a single episode/documentary. In most cases I can get closer to $500, but will then offer discounts if they want a whole stack of articles.

Hopefully this is somewhat helpful. Great topic for discussion, I'll be curious to hear what anyone else has to say.


Kevin has some great input. Be careful if you are approached with a very vague request, like "Can I license this for commercial use?" without any definition of the project or manner the it can be used. Doing so might end up with the company essentially reselling your work. Also you may want to specify whether the work must used as is or can it be used to create a derivative work.

While Kevin set a floor he won't generally go lower than, keep in mind the way image is going to be used and what impact that may have on your business. Allowing use of your images in some projects may actually drive traffic to your site. An example of this might be a locally produced history book and/or website that uses a few of your photos but includes links to your online photo archive where viewers may order prints. By requiring attribution and specifying the details to be included in the attribution (like links for online use) you may be able to their need into a money maker for you above and beyond any licensing fee.

Thanks for the input.

The request is asking for some photos of ours to use in a book about historic movie theaters of West Virginia. I'm not sure how many photos yet.