Sunday, January 6, 2008

Getty Images (GYI) In Decline Again

I looked with pleasant surprise at my iPhone stock tracker, and noted that Getty Images (Details: GYI) is just $0.10 shy of hitting another 52-week low at Friday's close, from when we reported their previous plummet back on September 18, 2007 ("Getty (GYI) Hit New 52 Week low"), and we've certainly not at a loss for writings of a critical nature about Getty. But, they are deserving of criticism, 'else we wouldn't be writing as such.

We wrote back on December 21st ("It's Not Your Copy Right, it's Mine") about the concept of Creative Commons. But there was some digging that I hadn't done that's worth noting.

(Continued after the Jump)

Dan Heller, in his intermittent (yet insightful) postings on his blog, this past Thursday wrote "The Creative Commons and Photography", a seeming treatise on Creative Commons. I strongly encourage you to read through the entire thing. I'll draw out one point (for now), that's may be a reason that the stock market is looking over their horn-rimmed glasses and out from under their green eyeshades at GYI:
"As of December 31, 2007, Flickr's 21 million users uploaded over 2 billions photos. Of those, 56,415,212 (or 2.8%) are tagged as having one of the Creative Commons licenses. For comparison, Getty Images is purported to have about 2 million photos... we can observe longer-term trends and fill in the blanks: year over year revenue at Getty has been declining in close parity with the growth of photo-sharing sites like Flickr."
Yoink! 56 million with CC tags! No doubt a large quantity of those require attribution only, and no compensation!

Heller goes on to make a number of highly insightful statements and suggestions worth pondering, in depth. What remains though, for the sake of reviewing Getty's prospects, is that their future doesn't look so bright. In fact, the future's so dim that the only people wearing shades are the accountants trying to justify the company's diminished valuation. (Note - the dim/shades reference is for your old-timers who remember the Timbuk3 1980's song by a similar name). The only thing Getty can hope for is that their keywording (and thus, search results) are better than the collective mass of images that's free on Fickr.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Competing on price is a losing proposition. When you try to do it for the pathetic figure that is $1, someone will come in and do it for free - and has, en masse. Next up? Creatives paying for placement in publications.

Oh wait, when it costs you more to produce the work than you're selling it for, that's essentially the same thing. Guess that's already (indirectly) happening. Here's to hoping for an opening bell Monday that looks dim for Getty's future. Once they've been relegated to the proverbial 8-track heap of history, those of us who actually value the images we produce, and compete on quality and not price will be in a far better position.
_________
DISCLAIMER: I have not, do not, nor plan to hold GYI, or any stock which would benefit from a GYI decline.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

6 comments:

Stuart Grimshaw said...

For anyone with any aspirations of making money out of their photographs, either now or in the future, the creative commons license are a really bad idea, and I'd strongly advise against using them.

A couple of years ago, I took some photos of a horse race and uploaded a few of the best ones to Flickr, using the Share-a-like attribution CC license, however I later found one of them, cropped and being used on a site advertising nights out for tourists in Lebanon, without attribution.

The Share-a-like license offers no incentive to persue this however because the most compensation I would get if it went to court is the amount I have lost through improper use of the photograph, in other words, my name underneath the photo.

So in my opinion the CC licenses, the Attribution ones in particular, are not worth the bandwidth costs they take to download. All my photos on Flickr are now All Rights Reserved.

Chris said...

Now there's a way to start a week. Fine, force me to acknowledge I'm now officially an old-timer (I got the dim/shades reference). :/

Walter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Walter Dufresne said...

"when it costs you more to produce the work than you're selling it for"

I've seen this since the 1970s: technology constantly reducing all barriers to entry, wealthy and poor kids alike unaware of their costs of doing business, constant justification of money-losing deals as "an investment in the future" and, strangest of all, a proud and misplaced desire to prove the worthiness of one's skills at any price, any price at all, including free. "I'll show 'em how good I am!"

The barriers to remaining are as high as ever.

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