European output of books before the advent of copyright, 6th century to 18th century. Blue shows printed books. Log-lin plot; a straight line therefore shows an exponential increase.

Royalty-free (RF) material subject to copyright or other intellectual property rights may be used without the need to pay royalties or license fees for each use, per each copy or volume sold or some time period of use or sales.

- Royalty-free

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Stock photography

Supply of photographs which are often licensed for specific uses.

A public domain stock photo titled "frog on palm frond"
A stock photograph, now in the archive of Getty Images, showing the 1911 Solvay Conference in Belgium. Many stock photos document historical events.
Example of a public domain stock photo, showing the Marina City building complex in Chicago

In the 1990s companies such as Photodisc in Seattle, Washington, began selling CD ROMs with packs of images, pioneering the royalty-free licensing system at a time when Rights Managed licensing was the norm in the stock industry.


VP8 is an open and royalty-free video compression format released by On2 Technologies in 2008.

Royalty payment

Payment made by one party to another that owns a particular asset, for the right to ongoing use of that asset.

Governments issue driver's licenses to people who are allowed to drive motor vehicles on public roads.

This is known as a royalty-free license.

Open standard

Standard that is openly accessible and usable by anyone.

Data2Dome logo

On the standard organisation side, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) ensures that its specifications can be implemented on a royalty-free basis.


Free and open container format, a file format that can hold an unlimited number of video, audio, picture, or subtitle tracks in one file.

Computer science container formats examples

It is a royalty-free open standard that is free to use, and its technical specifications are available for private and commercial use.

Microstock photography

Part of the stock photography industry.

A public domain stock photo titled "frog on palm frond"

What defines a company as a microstock photography company is that they (1) source their images almost exclusively via the Internet, (2) do so from a wider range of photographers than the traditional stock agencies (including a willingness to accept images from amateur photographers and hobbyists), and (3) sell their images at a very low rate (from US$0.20 to $10 in the US) for a royalty-free (RF) image.

Rights Managed

Rights Managed, or RM, in photography and the stock photo industry, refers to a copyright license which, if purchased by a user, allows the one-time use of the photo as specified by the license.

Lens and mounting of a large-format camera

In stock photography RM is one of the two common license types together with royalty-free, subscription and microstock photography being business models often confused as separate license types (both use the royalty-free license type).


This background of a movie poster for the 2011 film The Roommate was provided by iStockphoto. The image is that of the Christy Administration building at Southwestern College. The college believes this image was used without their permission.

iStock is an online royalty free, international micro stock photography provider based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Free lossy video compression format.

On2 also made an irrevocable, royalty-free license grant for any patent claims it might have over the software and any derivatives, allowing anyone to use any VP3-derived codec for any purpose.

Scene graph

General data structure commonly used by vector-based graphics editing applications and modern computer games, which arranges the logical and often spatial representation of a graphical scene.

Architecture of OpenSceneGraph, an open-source 3D graphics API supporting feature-rich and widely adopted scene graph implementation.

X3D is a royalty-free open standards file format and run-time architecture to represent and communicate 3D scenes and objects using XML.