Licensing Images For Facebook

A reader sent me the following question:

Do you know of a discussion on your blog or anywhere else discussing pricing for clients who want to license images to put on their Facebook wall?

My specific situation is a major [redacted] company wanting to use a series of editorial images that I originally shot for their brand magazine. They don’t have usage rights outside of the magazine, and want to post 10-15 images on their main facebook wall.

Would love to know how other photographers are working with their clients on this, or if there is some sort of standard developing for pricing Facebook wall photos for major clients.

I contacted a couple top-shelf agents to see if I could find some pricing information:

To us that is considered online use. So if the photographer sold “one time editorial and online use,” then that covers it. If they sold “one time editorial use” and “magazine website use only,” then I think they should pay something for Facebook. Even if it is a nominal fee. They could sell them a 1 year online use, no advertising for $500-$1000 depending on the amount of images.


I actually think social media/online usage is separate from general website/online use. We have not been asked for this usage yet but would expect to charge a fee for the use. Perhaps $350-$750 each depending on how many are purchased. This is new territory.

It looks like we’re ahead of the curve on this. Chime in on the comments if you can add any information.

There Are 40 Comments On This Article.

  1. I have the same issue! I shot some images at a sporting event and one of the participants wanted to use some for her Facebook site to promote her team. I wasn’t sure what to charge, but I know it couldn’t be for free!

    I do think that one needs a feel for the industry/use, and, for now, make the best guess.

  2. What if you charge for how many fans your client has at the time of purchase?
    A price structure something like this……..
    0-500 fans – $10 per image.
    500-5000 fans -$25 per image
    5000-25,000 fans -$75 per image
    25k-100k fans- $100 per image
    100k-500k- $200 per image
    500k- 1mil -$300 per image
    so on..

    Can someone set up a social network pricing structure for all photographers to go by?

    Jeff Flindt

    • @Jeff Flindt, I think you have to figure in time frame otherwise you’re shortchanging yourself. If you figure for simple stock use a client will pay anywhere from $200 to $400 for usage on a secondary web page I’d try to get more money for each of the suggested ranges above or minimally make those ranges a lot smaller.

    • @Jeff Flindt,

      That’s a tough call because a page of Fans / Friends is going to be highly liquid. You might license a photo based on 200 fans, and find out that they went viral and a month later they have 20000 fans.

      I would prefer that the photo be priced by resolution. If all they want is a blog sized image or smaller, I don’t think it makes sense to charge them a huge fee.

      It would probably be advantageous to leverage the situation, and make it a requirement of the licensing that they link to your own Facebook fan page as a “credit.” That way you build your presence while providing a service.

    • @Jeff Flindt, Very good price structure Jeff. But what if the image was edited/ retouched by a company like ours, for free in the first place? Then would it still be fair and ethical for the photographer to charge the company for posting a before-after image on facebook’s wall for a job that was free in the first place? Ofcourse, assuming permission of photographer having image rights has been granted.
      – Romila
      Admin of ‘Studio Print Art’ facebook page

  3. I think a consideration is to evaluate the difference between the on-line presence versus social media presence. The are those who have a large following in social media and web. I think pricing for the images should be commensurate with that kind of exposure. If there is lower exposure then you start getting in to a lower pricing structure for social media. I think the second set of numbers might work for a client that has a small fan base versus a large web presence.

    Ideally the photographs are not being given away. The photographer will really have to sharpen his negotiating skills.

  4. Does anyone know if company facebook accounts are underlaying different terms of use than a personal account? Either way it would be interesting to know how people think about the usage rights that facebook claims or might claim in the future on any uploaded media.

    • @brec, As far as I know, anyone can create a “company” Facebook account so I don’t think they are treated differently in terms of the Facebook general T&C’s.

      I’m not sure what the copyright status is when you upload an image to Facebook at this point to be honest.

  5. It’s also important to note that if you DO license images for “Editorial and Online Use” that is usually only in the context of editorial usage. Odds are the image will no longer be used in an editorial context once they are on Facebook.

    I’ve had a lot of clients ask me for rates for stock photos and it’s usually very similar to what they would pay for a secondary page on a website for one year.

  6. My understanding is that Facebook claims pretty comprehensive worldwide usage rights for any image posted to Facebook.

    A photog friend of mine went so far as to describe it thus: If you post any image to Facebook, you’ve effectively nulled any exclusivity agreement you might have guaranteed your client.

    Is anyone able to verify this?

  7. Just pulled from FB’s T&C:

    “…you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (“IP License”). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”

    Licensing images to clients for use on FB requires some serious consideration. It should be pointed out to the client that the images they’ve licensed for FB may be re-licensed by FB, anywhere & to anyone, even to competitors for use in their marketing & promotional materials.

    • @Dan, Very good observation. In a weird way you are giving unlimited usage out the back door. Don’t forget that one can now upload high res images to FB. I can see a client doing just that.

  8. If a company puts an image on Facebook, it is doing so for advertising and marketing and self-promotion – so photographers should charge accordingly.

    Also, if an image is on Facebook, anyone can download it – and is encouraged to do so by FB itself.

    • @Susan May Tell, OK, but your signature / watermark…on a professional’s images should protect them from being downloaded and misused anywhere else..correct me if I’m wrong?

  9. Facebook must have the right to publish the images that are posted. They move them through hundreds of servers. That is technically called “publishing” and they must protect themselves from someone posting an image and then suing them for copyright infringement as the image is posted to a redundant or backup server.

    Now I am sure the legal establishment would neeeever to that, but, you know, covering asses and all.

    Facebook cannot and will not use anyone’s image in a third-party usage deal. However, posting images to the “photos” allows them to be saved and shared. Hence, they are ‘published’ as per the agreement that the poster agreed to when posting.

    Using an iFrame within the Facebook architecture removes the images from Facebook entirely. They are NOT shared by any FB app. One can control the use easily as they are simply residing on the clients server, not the FB server.

    You can even use Lightbox features, flash galleries, JS/PHP/Jquery and all to make very nice looking galleries and bypass all the FB stuff anyway.

    Here is a post by FB discussing the rumor.

    I know it is so much fun and there are several online ‘legal eagles’ who are shouting and foaming at the mouth. But actually, that sort of ‘ownership’ thing is done to protect the ‘publisher’ NOT to steal images of photographers and artists. But alas, freeking out and feeling like a victim is such grand fun.


  10. This is an issue that will continue to grow and creative professionals need to address it now instead of try to recover in the future.

    I consider company social media pages, whether my page or Coca Cola’s, to be advertising. Many TV spots now end with a Facebook link. I do not know the metrics on their effectiveness but I suspect we will see more rather than fewer in the future.

    In the ink on paper era, advertising and marketing departments produced brochures, catalogues, magazine ads, etc. These pieces were very costly to produce. Now, with social media, production costs are reduced and department budgets are cut. However, CONTENT should not cost less.

    Usage becomes unlimited once it hits the internet. A much higher magnitude of eyeballs are seeing the content so it should be argued that licensing fees should be higher. The challenge is getting these companies to agree to reasonable fees and terms.

    Facebook launched in 2004. By 2009 it had 200 million users. Just two years later it has over 600 million users. It may be a futile effort but if we are to continue as businesses ourselves, it is critical for us to not give up social media usage for a fraction of its true value.

    • @Dave Einsel, Yes, don’t undervalue the power of FB and other social media – even twitter with a few words and a link can send a lot of info to thousands of people in a single tweet.

      It should cost the advertisers or companies much more than it has so far…they should pay the photographers a % of the dividend they earn each time they earn it…not just per image.
      Admin of ‘Studio print art’ on facebook page

  11. “…. it is critical for us to not give up social media usage for a fraction of its true value.”

    Yeah, pretty much sums it up.

  12. I just checked Getty and they have a use specified for this:

    Other uses for Web & Mobile — Web – Social Media for advertising or promotional use.

    Territory is US (I assume this is where the server lives)

    Duration is 1 year

    And then you can specify a industry. I chose Business Consulting/Services.

    Price for 1 RM image with no exclusivity was $630 dollars.

  13. “So if the photographer sold “one time editorial and online use,” then that covers it.”

    “Online use” seems to vague–that could include all kinds of usage. Also, Ed makes a good point in comment # 3 about how some have much bigger social media followers than others, so this really needs to be taken on a case by case basis.

    • @Jim Newberry, I was actually pondering this situation a bit more. Dave and Donald makes some great points too. I think Robs quick research seems to point in the direction that if an image is going to be used on FB or any other social media site, the usage should be clearly defined. I don’t think a contract with the general term of online/web media can be used. If think the terms used need to clearly identify the sites by URL and usage outside of those sites requires a new contract/amendment and the appropriate fees paid.

      Also I think usage fees for social media might need to be higher than regular web site usage. My first thought was the opposite direction but as I looked at the numbers on FB it seems quite clear an image has a better chance of creating more attention and revenue on FB than a website.

      I think I would also be a bit wary of an image being used on FB by a client since it is so easy to take it. Then again there are numerous ways it could be stolen.

  14. It’s online use, very simple. Doesn’t matter if it’s being used for website or facebook. Charge accordingly. This is nothing “new”

  15. Bennett Richards

    Question: If an Artist (photographer) posts an original image on FaceBook or TwitPic will it have have any effect on that artist’s copyright or ownership rights to the image?

    I had heard that any image so posted would cede certian rights to FaceBook and/or TwitPic per their user agreements and one result would be that the artist would no longer have the righ to sell exclusive rights to the image so posted.

    Has anyone else looked into this?



    • @Mark Harmel,

      Two days ago I uploaded a snapshot and was surprised to see that when it appeared on FB, the copyright metadata was actually printed out like a caption beneath the photo, with the copyright symbol and all.

      I had never seen that before, so perhaps their policy has changed.

      – Mr. K

  16. Reading this post and the messages, I am still unsure what to do about all this. I work for a publication, but have been trying to start a freelance business, covering local bands and events that don’t conflict with my full time job at a weekly newspaper. I am working on pricing since I have finally had some bands request me to come to their event, but it’s hard to know what to price the event. I know that my thought is I should price a decent rate, but make it affordable. I know what these “so-called” other photographers charge, and I want to go somewhere between above them, but not over the top. Working at a paper means that I understand what it’s like because there are photographers out there shooting for free, which I don’t do. On this topic, I feel that I should charge an extra amount for bands that want the photos uploaded to Facebook for their band websites and publicity. I am just not sure where to go with the pricing, right now, ANYTHING is better than NO MONEY. I researched some other photographers doing similar things, and their prices seem reasonable. But after reading this, and if I do upload the band’s photos, I then loose all the money I could have made by selling prints on my website. However, it is a service that I can offer to clients. What are thoughts from others who have a similar situation?