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.
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.
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