Buyouts vs Rights Packages: A buyout, unlimited use and exclusive use are three very different terms and you and your client need to be very clear on what each one means.
A buyout means a transfer of the copyright on your image to the client. This gives the client the right to use the image in any way they choose, forever. They can even resell the use of the image to others. You’re giving up all rights to any future sales from this image and you need to be well compensated for the loss of future income. This will cost your client dearly.
The buyout we’re talking about here isn’t the low level corporate strong-arming that you might encounter where a client is trying to force you to transfer your assets to them. The type of buyout described here is a legitimate business transaction where one of your photographs is so unique and valuable to a client’s needs that they are willing to fairly compensate you for the ownership of one of your images.
We’ve heard of photographers being paid over $100,000 for total buyouts. This is rare. There is no set formula for pricing a buyout, but before you give away your copyright on any image you’ll want to be sure that you are very well paid for doing so. The uniqueness of your image will also determine your final asking price. Get out your negotiating shoes; you’re going to need them.
There has been a major shift in the way companies are using images. The Internet and other electronic media, along with computer designing and production ability, have given your clients endless advertising and publishing opportunities. Your clients see their own needs, and often the only solution they can come up with to get what they think they need is to ask for all rights to the image. You need to come up with a way to meet their needs while taking care of yourself and your business.
A Possible Solution
When the client understands what kind of money is involved in a total buyout they will probably rethink things and realize they simply need an exclusive use for a limited period of time. They need a solution for the way they want to use the images, and the way to get there is through negotiation.
Good negotiation is much more than two parties agreeing on a price. It often includes, through the process of the negotiation, the discovery of each party’s actual needs, and the combining of those needs into a solution that benefits both sides.
Your client will benefit from your helping them discover what usages they NEED, so that they won’t be paying for something they won’t use. You can also make it clear to them that the only way they can benefit from your reasonable fees is for you to be able to continue to license your images to other buyers.
A possible solution for both of you is to put together a package of rights. In fotoQuote Pro 6 we call these Quote Packs. Quote Packs are groupings of rights packages that give you the ability to bundle different types of license usages together when licensing a rights-managed image for advertising or promotional use.
A Quote Pack will give your client greater flexibility in how they wish to use the images licensed from you. They are afforded the freedom and convenience of using the image in a variety of ways without having to come back to you to renegotiate for every use and at the same time you protect your copyright and control of your images.
Remember that you’re trying to come up with an easily understandable and defendable solution to your clients changing needs. If you don’t have the solution yourself, your client probably has one for you. We suggest that you use yours.