What can be copyrighted? The answer is wide-ranging, from movies, photographs, writing published in print or online, graphics, music, and more. Essentially, any creative work in a tangible form, which includes digital formats, that is original to the creator is protected by copyright. It is not required that the originator of the work register his or her copyright with the government, although doing so provides extra protections.
It should be noted, therefore, that just because a work is royalty free doesn't mean that it is not under copyright. The term "royalty free" refers to an arrangement by which the licensee pays a single fee for the privilege to use a particular creative work multiple times. A portion of that fee then goes to reimburse the creator of the work.
It is also important to understand the difference between the terms "royalty free" and "public domain." All public domain works are royalty free, but not all royalty-free works are in the public domain. Public domain works are not protected by copyright, either because they were never eligible for copyright, the copyright has expired, or the originator has waived copyright protection. Because public domain works are not under copyright, anyone can use them free of charge. The term "royalty free" typically refers to materials that are still under copyright, so before making use of such material, understand whether it is royalty free or public domain first, as misuse of copyrighted material can have serious legal consequences.
Any copyright holder can enter into an agreement with a company such as Shutterstock to provide royalty-free creative assets, which means that the range of creative assets that can be royalty free is almost as wide as the range of materials that can be copyrighted. Common royalty-free assets include the following:
Remember, just because some of these assets are royalty free doesn't mean they all are, so be sure to check first. You can access and license a wide range of royalty-free assets with a Shuttershock subscription or plan. For all your image needs, browse the Shutterstock image library today. Find your ideal royalty free photo or image.
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