An author recently provided us with a beautiful picture that he wanted to put on his book’s cover. As I always do, I asked him for a copy of the receipt, showing that he purchased the rights to use the image. As authors ourselves, we are very respectful of the intellectual property rights of others. That includes authors, writers, artists, graphic designers, and others.
The author did indeed have a receipt for the purchase. However, he could not use the image on the cover of his book. Why?
The receipt from Alamy stated:
“Use in a magazine or book (print or digital), inside use, 2,500 circulation, worldwide for 5 years (excludes advertising)”
I had to let the author know what that means:
1. You can only use it inside the book (not on the cover).
2. You have to pay them again if you sell more than 2500 copies. The may price increase by then. If the image is no longer available (yes, that happens!), you’d need to have your cover redesigned using a different image.
3. You have to pay again after you’ve used it for 5 years…again, if it’s still available.
4. You can’t use it for advertising. That means you can’t use the image to promote your book, including on the cover because you’ll be using the cover, of course, to promote your book.
Never assume, by paying a website for an image, that you have unlimited rights to use the image in any way you choose. Always read the fine print. Better yet, hire your own illustrator using a work-for-hire agreement that gives you all rights to the final product.
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