Ashley Morrison's Blog

December 29, 2010

Licence to use.

And why you should use it to avoid misunderstandings down the road.

It is, in my opinion, a very important document…
Licence to use
.. which every Photographer should be making use of – especially today in this digital age.

It’s not an Invoice or a Model Release form – it’s a separate document – which is basically​ designed to help avoid misunderstandings, between you and your Clients or anyone else who may be handling or wanting to use your images.

Remember, the guys in the ‘art department’ ​may never see your Invoice – which contains the usage agreement information – because it may have been sent straight to the ‘accounts department’. So that’s where this document comes into play – it’s a separate document, that stays with your images – designed to help prevent misunderstandings down the road.

Filling in this document is simple – just tick the boxes & fill in the blanks.
Then print it out and staple it to your contact sheets, put a pdf file of it on the CD along with your images, email it to your client… whatever it takes – so as everyone knows what has been agreed (which obviously needs to tally​ with what you have written on your Invoice) – as well as what has not been agreed to, which can be even more important to sometimes clearly show too.

The example below is based on the Association of Photographer‘s Licence document, which for a while one could have downloaded from their website …along with other useful documents & forms.

(Please note: Having used this document for a number of years now, I have made a few minor changes to their standard template, but it’s basically still the same)

Then print their standard Terms & Conditions on the back, which is relevant to where you are based.

That’s it – my No.1 tip of the day for all Photographers – to help avoid misunderstandings down the road.

Below are the basic definitions of the Media use terms and what each covers:-

. Ambient – includes: garage forecourt, airport and rail station screens and all public areas where advertising is screened.
. Billboards / Posters – includes: 96/48/16/12/4 sheet, superlites, escalator panels, bus sides & panels, taxis wraps & seats, bus backs, tube, underground.
. Brochure / Catalogue.
. Direct Mail – includes: door drop leaflets & postcards.
. Inserts / Prints.
. Marketing Aids – includes: umbrellas, ashtrays, beer mats, exhibition panels, trolley panels, etc.
. Magazine ads – includes: advertorial features, ads & PR.
. Magazine editorial.
. Newspaper – includes: advertorial features, ads & PR.
. Packaging.
. Point of sale – also known as ‘Point of Purchase’.
. PR – images used to promote within a press editorial/advertorial or trade handout.
. Press – includes: trade, consumer, local, national, magazine & newspapers.
. Television / Cinema – includes: interactive TV, Video, mobiles, CD ads.
. Worldwide web – includes: email ads & internet use.

For more information on this, buy the AOP’s book Beyond The Lens“the essential guide to rights, ethics and business practice in professional photography” – which can be purchased from their website in one of two forms: conventional printed book form or immediate electronic downloads.



  1. Hi Ashley – Thank you for all these great business insights – I really appreciate your sharing them. Just a question about the licence: If you are commissioned by an agency – to create shots for use by their client – who’s name goes on the licence? The agency or their client, who will in fact, be the user? Many thanks, Paul

    Comment by paul — December 17, 2015 @ 1:49 pm | Reply

    • That’s something you may want to talk to the agency about, Paul.

      When shooting a Hotel, for example, that was commissioned by either a Booking agent or a Design company, I would normally put the Hotel’s name and address against the Granted to (The Agency) part – and then the name of the person in the Booking agent or Design company that I was dealing with, as The Advertiser.

      That way, if the Hotel did decide to use another Booking agent or Design company later on, then the ‘Licence to use’ would still be valid… assuming it hadn’t expired of course.

      Most seem to be happy with that and I’m happy with that too – which at the end of the day is really all that this is about, i.e. you’re trying to make sure that everyone is clear about what the actual deal is , based on your understanding… which is why you would sign it 🙂

      Comment by Ashley Morrison — December 17, 2015 @ 2:22 pm | Reply

  2. […] As for asking someone beforehand (when you are quoting a price), to agree to pay you afterwards, for the Rights to use the work that you are going to (agree to hire yourself and possibly others as well to) create – that’s a completely different deal and/or thing altogether – so should you want to know about that, you can read more about what I have already said about that type of deal here: Licence to use. […]

    Pingback by A ‘Work Made For Hire’ type of agreement. | Ashley Morrison's Blog — December 17, 2015 @ 10:55 am | Reply

  3. Superb, this article has everything in detail.

    Comment by TV Licence Phone Number — February 22, 2014 @ 12:14 pm | Reply

  4. […] this document… .. is what Claudia was asking for – which I talked about here: Licence to use – and why I highly recommend all photographers use it, to avoid misunderstandings down the […]

    Pingback by Pianciano Holiday Rentals | Ashley Morrison's Blog — December 19, 2013 @ 3:24 pm | Reply

  5. Thanks for writing “Licence to use | Ashley Morrison’s Blog”. Imight undoubtedly wind up being back for alot more browsing and commenting here in the near future. Thanks a lot, Christy

    Comment by Dewayne — November 15, 2013 @ 10:36 pm | Reply

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    Comment by Aubrey — August 13, 2013 @ 4:23 pm | Reply

  7. Very good blog you have here but I was wanting to know
    if you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics talked
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    Comment by free dental care — July 31, 2013 @ 8:29 pm | Reply

  8. excellent guide, thanks for publishing

    Comment by Russ — May 25, 2012 @ 10:15 am | Reply

  9. best guide to this I have seen so far! Thanks!

    Comment by ollievision — July 30, 2011 @ 11:59 am | Reply

  10. thanks for the link for the contract very helpful

    Comment by bryan — January 24, 2011 @ 8:06 pm | Reply

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