Stock Images Database: why choosing them

stock images database

Table of Contents

Stock images database: introduction

Stock Images Database is important for startups with a small budget. Although startups work with a limited budget since the very beginning, they must deal with a lot of stuff as large enterprises, but they need to find the cheapest way to keep the work going. Anyone who finds himself/herself with the need to acquire images to be published on his/her website, blog, or social networks, will wonder: “are the images royalty free or can you just search for them on google?”, “To use them it must be me the author?”, “why do images have to be copyright free?”, “where can I find images that can be used for commercial purposes?”.

By continuing to read this article, you will find answers to all questions.

Image copyright: what it is and how it works

When we talk of the online world, there is the popular belief that everything published is freely available to everyone. Nothing more wrong! As for the images, to protect them we find the Copyright.

By the term copyright we mean the law that protects intellectual properties and therefore the creation of a project work. This right is acquired when the work is created. To obtain the copyright on the photos or images, they must be accompanied by the name, surname, and date of creation.

The copyright law, current in Italy and in many other countries, distinguishes two categories of rights:

  • moral rights: the one who owns the moral rights of the image is always the creator and author of it.
  • patrimonial rights: these are the rights of exploitation, disclosure, and economic use. They do not always belong to the author of the image, who can decide to sell or transfer them.

Having understood how copyright works, we can say that downloading an image from the web, without worrying about copyright, is like committing a crime. The one who downloads and uses images subject to copyright, in fact, can be denounced on charges of copyright infringement. Therefore, we must always be careful and understand what our rights to the images are.

Stock images database: what it is and what licenses we find related to it

Stock images database are container sites (or micro stock sites) of photos, images, vector graphics and illustrations that allow us to download their contents and use them for our purpose, without incurring in copyright issues.

The stock images database allow, without resorting to photographers, graphic designers, or experts in the sector, to take advantage of their contents with a small budget.

In an extremely popular way, they offer packages where prices change according to the number of images that can be downloaded per month. Others, however, allow us to pay for the single image we need. Still others are totally free but allow us to leave a small contribution to the author, so we will be able to choose whether to acquire the content for free or pay for it.

Choosing to use these databases is therefore the fastest, cheapest, and safest way to acquire the images we need. But how do they ensure their use (including commercial purposes), disclosure and exploitation? Thanks to the licenses applied to the contents: the most common are royalty free and creative commons.

Royalty Free License

The Royalty Free license is the most used by the largest and most well-known database stock images.

How does it work? The stock images database provide the content (photos, images, graphics, etc.) that can be downloaded for a fee; with the requested sum of money, we purchase the permission to disclosure and use the content without limits of space or time. The gains will be made by both the database stock images, which will take a commission/percentage of the sale, and the author of the content, who is awarded the royalty for each purchase made.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons licenses are created to facilitate the relationship between author and user of the contents. The author of the photos or images decides which rights to transfer to his works, so that the user immediately understands what use he can make of them.

The Creative Commons are marked by 4 attributes (attribution, non-commercial, no derivative works and sharing alike) and there are 6 in total:

  • Attribution: the author is always recognized and allows the user to make free use of the content, also granting the possibility of modification.
  • Attribution – Non-commercial: the content can be modified and used freely, but not for commercial purposes.
  • Attribution – No derivative works: the content cannot be changed.
  • Attribution – Non-commercial – No derivative works: the content cannot be used for commercial purposes and cannot be modified.
  • Attribution – Sharing alike: the content can be modified, but it must be shared with the same type of license that the author has established for the original.
  • Attribution – Non-commercial – Sharing alike: the content can be modified but must be shared with the same type of license that the author has established for the original.
  • Attribution – Non-commercial – Sharing alike: the content can be modified only and exclusively if it is assigned the “non-commercial” and “share alike” licenses.


Copyleft is a copyright management model that can be translated as “author’s permission”.

It is a set of licenses with which the author indicates to users that his photo or image can be used and spread, sometimes even allowing it to be modified.

Some examples of Copyleft licenses for database stock images can be found under Creative Commons licenses, especially those with the “sharing alike” attribute.

Rights Managed License

Rights Managed is a niche license, rarely used but that we can still find in some micro database stock images.

It is a license that limits time and space and aims at specific ways of spreading an image or photograph. A practical example is the editorial purpose: with this type of license, it will be necessary to specify the number of copies we want to print, where they will be processed and for how long we will use the image. It is because of its binding nature that the Rights Managed license is rare to find, but it is still useful to know its existence.

Public Domain Images

By public domain images we mean photos made available by the author, without limitation of use. We can then download and use them as we like: for commercial purposes, for advertising or for the simple purpose of disclosure and sharing. We do not have to worry about licensing or copyright restrictions.

They can be found in dedicated databases that grow more and more over time, creating very consistent image pools.

Stock images database: conclusions

We hope that with this article you can better orient yourself in the world of purchasing images / photos to use for your purposes without committing crimes.

If you are interested in Stock Images Database, please read more on: Stock Images Database: about 100 websites and the best ones for us

For more information read also the related white paper that you find on this page Digital Marketing for Startups