You are torn, battling between selling your stock footage under the rights managed license (RM) or the royalty-free license (RF). You know RM is the trusty reliable license you can count on as it has been around since the concept of stock footage first evolved. RF may be the new kid on the block, but there must be a reason why there are so many microstock footage sites offering them. So which should you choose?

For the uninitiated, here’s a short explanation of the key differences between the two:
Duration of use: RM footage are licensed for a limited amount of time; RF footage can be used for perpetuity.
Cost: RM footage are charged based upon various usage considerations, such as the purpose of production, the size of its audience and the duration of usage; RF footage are charged based upon the format required.

To make the choice between RF versus RM, most people would ask – which license is more profitable?

If this question is posed in a scientific experiment, all things being equal, and only one sale is made, the answer will be clear – RM. Simply because it’s licensing charges is higher than RF.

In reality, it is hard to gauge, as choosing between RM and RF boils down to the age-old business choice between “selling quality” versus “selling quantity”. RM stock footage command a higher licensing charge for their unique content and exclusivity. However, there are fewer buyers as they not only cost more, but are based on complicated usage considerations. The Association of Commercial Stock Image Licensors has attempted to rectify the latter issue with the Licensing Grid, but it is impossible to make it as uncomplicated as RF.

RF footage eliminate the barriers of RM, attracting more buyers. Commonly sold as online instant downloads for perpetual usage, RF stock footage are convenient to buy, flexible to use, and much cheaper. However, their lower pricing make the earnings trickling in seem more like pocket money.
Both licensing models have proven to work, so perhaps the question should not be about which license will make you more money, but rather, what you have and prefer to offer.

Here’s three questions you can ask yourself:

1. What kind of stock footage content do you have?
If they are unique, specialized, difficult to get, then you can consider selling under RM as there is a higher chance people will be willing to pay a higher price for them. If they are generic content that are useful for multiple situations, then sell them as RF as many people would find them useful to buy.

2. How big is your stock footage inventory?
If you have tons of works, you can afford to “sell quantity”. Then it will be better to sell under RF where there is a higher rate of sales, as compared to RM.

3. How much do you love your stock footage?
RM, with all its complicated usage considerations, helps you keep track of who’s using your footage, what they are being used for, when and where they will be used. RF, while still ensuring your copyright to your works, does not provide these form of control.