There is a wealth of laws that are devoted to the buying and selling of creative works. On one end of the spectrum, some creative works have slipped into the public domain. That means they have no rights reserved on them and are free to use. On the other end of the spectrum are highly specific and detailed rules about how a creative work, owned by someone else, can be re-used with permission.
In general, the more specific and narrow the use that is granted on a stock photo, the more money it might cost. Also, higher cost photos have less chance of being sold many times to other people, so you are not likely to see the image used many times in other places. Some stock photos sell for thousands of dollars if the photographer is famous or if the use is completely exclusive.
When you go to buy stock photography online, you'll discover that the amount and types of licensing agreements are vast. Just because you buy a $1 or royalty free stock photo does not mean licensing requirements do not come with it. You should always read carefully the consent agreement that comes with a stock photography deal. If you violate it, you can be sued.
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