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Copyright law gives the creator of an image or work the right to control the way in which the image is used. It also gives the creator the right to license others to use the image in return for a fee. It is this system, along with contracts, which underpins the set of working practices operating in the picture industry today.

Licensing is the process of splitting up the right to use an image into smaller, more manageable and affordable pieces by selling very specific rights for its use. Images are usually licensed by size (or prominence) of reproduction, by territory in which they appear, by the medium in which they are reproduced, by time and/or quantity of reproductions and can be exclusive or non-exclusive. For example, a magazine may buy a once only non-exclusive right to use a new photograph in next month's edition whereas an advertising agency would need to buy the right to use an image exclusively for a period of time in press, posters, television and other forms of visual media to ensure that their message is not weakened by the association of the image with other products.

Photographers and artists either assign or sell the right to license their images to libraries and agencies. Some libraries own the copyright in all their pictures whilst some represent hundreds of different photographers.

Theimagefile does not own the copyright of any of the creators images, we act as a broker of visual assets for our members.

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