It's worth mentioning that IStock, and others, do not market 'unlimited rights'. The whole RF concept is slightly mis-named because there are limits put on what a client can do with the image. What RF really means is that there are no more royalties payable for that image as long as it is used within the basic license parameters set by the stock company in their T+Cs.
True enough but the T + Cs are very liberal and in no way limit a purchaser of a RF image
to using an image exclusively in the domain for which they originally needed the image,
i.e. many clients are now amassing their own small internal RF libraries using images which
they liscensed legitimately and are reselling these same images to other of their clients when
the opportunity arises. To me that's dirty pool and,even if an RF supplier had terms forbidding
this secondary resale there is virtually no way for the original vendor to track what is,and is not
a secondary resale as useage info is not required as a term of sale.
I make my living exclusively from stock (predominantly in RM but am dabbling around the edges
of RF) and am opening a gallery in Montreal in the next week or so.
As it was almost impossible to resist the reality that RF is quickly becoming a dominant
force in the liscensing of stock images (over 50% of the global dollars spent on stock
photography is spent on RF) I put a few questions to the legal department of my principal
agent so as to educate myself on what backend problems i might run into when trying to
determine which images go into the RF stream and which into the RM.
The most notable,among a few other lesser issues,for me knowing that I would be
eventually owning a gallery and selling 'fine art' prints was that there exists no exclusion for
most,if not all of the big distributors, for fine art use meaning that an unscrupulous RF
purchaser could liscense images at high enough resolution to print and market fine art
reproductions without compensation to or even recognition of the image creator.
It was noted by the legal department contact that the area was a little 'gray' and that
possibly a successfull defense could be presented in court if the need arose but the fact remains
that no specific protection currently exists in present T + Cs.
It's obvious,for anyone doing their homework,to note that quality of RF content is very
high (and there is volume junk) and is no longer the poor sister of RM imagery.
I suspect that micropayment stock will also follow a similar creative path and I think one has
to think carefully on how ones images can be used once it enters the 'semi public' domain
of royalty free liscensing