Usage buyouts - do you really need one?

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usage buyouts - do you really need one?

‘Our budget is tight, and we want a total buyout’

Buyout - A much misunderstood term. It has become extremely common for it to be requested when I am asked for a quote. But often when I ask why it is required most clients don't know and the conversation can sometimes become awkward?

The following is my attempt to simplify that initial chat and remove any embarrassment a client may have.....


1) Copyright

“We want the Copyright"

From my experience most clients think they are buying the copyright to the photos.

No -  the copyright still remains with the creator.

Very simply when commissioning a photographer you are purchasing a “Licence to use” the resulting photographs.

So whether they realise it or not,  people asking for a buyout are basically proposing an exclusive unrestricted license.

The request often seems to go hand in hand with trying to get the most out of "a tight budget". Most clients don't really understand the cost implications of a so called buyout. In fact in the majority of cases a license that carries unlimited use is not just costly, it is totally unnecessary. A photographer can make the price much smaller if you are realistic about where you will use the photos and for how long  ..........

2) Period of use

“We want to use the photographs forever"

Will you really need to use the photos ad infinitum?

No. Clients' promotions and campaigns would have diluted impact if they kept using the same images for the next 5, 10, 20 years. Their audiences would get bored of seeing them. Also styles and fashions change. Increasingly images have shorter lives now anyway as clients aim to update their “content” regularly to engage with their audiences.

3) Media use & territory of use

“We want to use the photographs “everywhere”"

Will the photos be used all round the world? The answer is always No.

Sure some bigger companies may use them for their campaigns in multiple regions like UK, Europe & US but not many.

For example

- if you are opening a fish restaurant in London why would you pay to use the photos in the US?

- will all the photographs be used on advertising billboards ? More than likely none of them will be, so again why pay for it? The photographer would have to build advertising usage into their “buyout” price just in case.

So keep it simple & keep the price small...

...only pay for what you need;

- how long will you really use the photographs for? Generally it is best to “license” for 1, 2 or 3 years.

- where do you want to use them? If it is just website, social media & PR just pay for that.

If all goes well with the promotion You and the photographer can always re-visit a license at a later date anyway. It is an easy thing to negotiate. Much cheaper - and easier - than trying to define an imprecise term like “buyout”.

- Stephen Conroy - food photographer

Fancy getting some great results  - just get in touch with Stephen Conroy Food Photography