About Our Free Use Policy

Terra Galleria Photography is one of a very few professional photography sites with a free image use policy, not only for private, non-commercial use but also for students and volunteer organizations, people who often benefit from the use of photographs but can not afford the normal licensing fee.

My profession is photography. I am deriving income from producing images and licensing usage rights. Copyright is the essence of a photographer's ability to earn a living. It would be much easier to just state that "all my photos are copyrighted and can not be used for any purpose what so ever without a license". This statement would save me a lot of emailing time giving permission, or worse yet, denying free usage. Sometimes, I also have to deal with not so friendly emails from people I denied permission, or with people demanding that I send out images for free, as if they were doing me a huge favor by using my materials.

From time to time, I am told that I would get "free publicity" in return for image use. The fact is that if the audience is limited, whatever exposure is obtained is not significant, whereas for any use where the exposure would be substantial, I would expect that there is a budget in place for image licensing. Last time I checked, magazines with higher circulation -which would give higher exposure - paid more for image use than magazines of smaller circulation, not the opposite. You have managed to find terragaleria.com without advertising. With a monthly visitation to this website above half-milion, what I need is more business rather than more visitors.

So, why am I offering free usage? The reasons are simple: I want to share my passion for travel and the wonder of nature with as many people as possible and to support those who volunteer their efforts for good causes. By granting permission in writing, I hope to make people feel comfortable enjoying my photos or sharing them in a non-commercial way. The terms of use have been crafted very carefully to balance my professional goals with my goals of sharing.

To maintain the commercial value of my materials, I need to restrict free use to low resolution images. To protect the copyrighted and rights-managed status of my photographs (which means the photos must be licensed for a specific use), I need to keep track of each image's exposure by requiring those who qualified to obtain permission for public diffusion. To prevent my images from inadvertently falling into the Public Domain, removal of the copyright watermark un-obtrusively placed at the bottom of each medium-resolution photo is not permitted (1), and a copyright notice must be placed next to the image. An active link to www.terragalleria.com is requested next to any image used so that visitors can easily go back to the source of the image and read about our terms of use. Both the copyright notice and the link must be next to the image so that nobody can say that they didn't see them.

Regarding who qualifies for free usage, my principle is based on fairness and pure common sense. Here is the free-use qualification in plain English: Besides non- commercial personal use or limited distribution by students, I will offer our resource for free to people who volunteer their effort, provided that I support their causes. If people received salary or any kind of compensation to do their jobs, no matter how noble these jobs are, I will ask them to offer a fee for my materials if they want to use these photos to enhance or promote their work. There is no reason why I should contribute my images for free if they do not contribute their time for free. The same principle applies to organizations. Free usage is available only to organization where the core people who created or run it do NOT make a living out of it, and the service or information it provided is free of charge. Many all-volunteer social services, environmental or charity groups belong in this category, and we have on several occasions donated image rights to them.

In general, regardless of your non-profit status, when you use an image in print, you have to pay for the printing, paper, and design. We would like to get paid for our photo as well. Producing high-quality images in faraway locations can be very expensive in terms of time and resources, especially considering that an entire day might not yield any successful image at all if the light was not good. Our expenses for travel, cameras (some of which depreciate at a rate of $2000/year), lenses, tripods and heads, accesories (some of our filters cost more than many cameras), computers, scanners, film, processing, office expenses, insurance and other business necessities have to be covered, and besides, we also need to make a living and support our family.

One final note. Terra Galleria Photography is a commercial site, offering high quality images as fine art prints or for licensing. We are under no obligation to provide free images for anyone. The free use policy is offered solely out of our goodwill and can be terminated at any time. So, please respect our Copyright and Terms of Use; write to us for permission only if you are qualified and provide us with all the necessary information to verify your qualification. If you know of or suspect any copyright infringement, please inform us, since it is a serious offense(2). In the meanwhile, enjoy our photos!

QT Luong

(1) Removal of a copyright mark is in itself a violation of the Digital Milenium Copyright Act (DMCA), Sec. 1202.
(2)All our images are registered with the Copyright office, which legally enable us to prosecute violators for copyright infringement in US Federal Court for a fine of US $150,000 statutory damages, as well as court costs and attorney's fees.