Monday, February 5, 2007

Sour Grapes?

So, the folks who are inspired to make and (essentially) give away their work for the joy of seeing their work out in the world are up in arms because people are further spreading their (supposedly) royalty-free work beyond where they were expecting. This istockphoto thread about the Flickr distribution of their work has got many folks a flutter on the iStockphoto message boards.

People -- when you give you work away for peanuts, don't get upset when someone makes peanut butter and starts re-distributing it! Perhaps this use is outside of the scope of the license - and I want to emphasize "perhaps", but this is what you cheer from the rooftops about in the forums when you run across one of your images on a billboard that you received $0.50 for, right? The idea of some communal "I just want to see my work in print" mentality somehow here has been turned on it's head. And now, the free-love hippies of the 60's cum free-photos hippies of the 00's are screaming "not fair" when they think they are being exploited.

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.


Nathan said...

Whoa whoa whoa.

I'm with you almost entirely on the travesty that is iStockphoto (and it's competitors), and the somewhat senseless "photographers" that participate. But when you tell people not to get upset about unauthorized re-distribution of their work, it shouldn't matter whether the image license is $.01 or $1,000. It is wrong either way, and every photographer should be adamant about that.

Ahmad Alhashemi said...

I don't think that the price or terms at which you sell your photos affect your ownership of them.

To have a competition with much lower prices is not the same as your photos being given away for free.

Anonymous said...

I find this exceedingly funny and pathetic. I really do believe that it's just a matter of time before these publicly-trading hackshop outlets put themselves out of business by very nature of their respective business models and their need to demonstrate ever-increasing earnings to their shareholders. I think they're aware of it, too, hence the scrambling to find way to make it sustainable and/or more lucrative for themselves. Unfortunately it's going to damage everyone else in the process, but the current way of operating isn't sustainable for anyone.

Also note, now, the request from iStockphoto on their forum to contain the discussion and not discuss it publicly.



John Harrington said...


My point was that "perhaps" it was outside the use, and if it was, then, yes, it's an infringement. HOWEVER, their complaints are counter to their "free photos for all" attitude that permeates all aspects of istockphoto's forums where viewers are more interested in seeing their work on billboards than they are being compensated for their work. Surely, no one earning $0.20 on a $1 photo license is interested in revenue, they are interested in seeing "their name in lights" so to speak. That was my point.


Anonymous said...

WOW! It is amazing how short sided some "photographers" can be. A image "published" for short term gain with no future plan to make your images work for you.

I am so glad that my images are with two of the big three plus what I license from my own site.

Dennis Murray said...

It's another lesson to read your contracts and terms and conditions when you "sign" or virtually sign any document.

Anonymous said...

Why does everyone think if you are selling through a micro site that the photographer is only concerned on seeing their image published. If I am making an extra $1k a month on my catalog plus that I add on to other sources of income should I discount it because it is pennies that add up? I completely agree that doing micro-stock for "credit" is a waste of time - but why is doing it for money a waste of time???

Anonymous said...

Looks good on them!
The royalty free and now microstock models did a huge amount of damage to the imaging industry.
You can't expect people to pay peanuts for a product, and then treat it like it is worth anything.

Anon(1), you do know that istockphoto is a subsidiary of Getty.
They bought this low end crowdsourcing site to cut into the revenues of the other microstock competitors, while at the same time damaging their own sales.

1K a month on IStock, that means somewhere between 2000 and 5000 sales. If you dig into the
statistics very few of their snapshot suppliers manage even 500$ a month in sales, and the majority don't even make it to the 150$ needed to get a real check instead of a download credit.

Peter Pauer said...

Crowdsourcing, the only ones making any real profits are the microstock companies themselves.
Their snap suppliers make peanuts if anything, and they are making it difficult times for real shooters who chose to made imaging a living.

The faster this exploitative model falls apart the better.

Anonymous said...

I am happy that my photo's bring something instead of gathering dust. Any publication how small or how big, makes me proud and I am able to buy a great new lens every year, which is much more then dyust brings me.
If you can't stop them then join them but do not try to f&*ck them over.
That uis waht youy are doing here and now. By giving away the images to everybody (OUTSIDE the license agreements) you do not hurt the microstock, you hurt your fellow photographer who is happy to make a little something of which he can maybe earn something of his investments.


Mark Scheuern said...

Not that I enjoy seeing anyone be the target of license violations but, well, this is amusing.

One of the excuses you frequently hear from microstock contributors is that the folks who license their images are mostly the people who would be stealing them if they couldn't get them for pennies. Well, guess what? It turns out they license them for pennies and give them away to others. Big surprise, isn't it?

And the other big excuse is "the shots would be gathering dust anyway." Well, guess what? I'd much prefer having them gather dust than making a company with a sleazy business model rich and helping to destroy a profession in the process.

Viral marketing is an important part of iStock's business model--they seed forums with talk of people making five figures a month while ignoring what a miniscule percentage of contributors make such amounts--so I'm sure this will be a lively discussion. It's also fun to watch them try to keep this problem under wraps.

Anonymous said...

Seed the forums with how bad these guys are - create an anti-viral campaign and teach these leeches a lesson.

Anonymous said...

If I only had the time, I think I would track what images are doing the best on the crowdsourceing sites.
Then create various duplicate iterations of these images and push them to free sharing sites.
Now with a phaseone back I can manage 39mp 64bit double pass captures, not sure what freebee sharing sites can handle 560mb original tiffs. :)

Would be an interesting experiment to see how long these snapshot sales sites can last. If versions their most popular images suddenly start to become available for free as very hi res captures done by people with studios full of equipment.
And background that includes a photography education, instead of home guess work.

David Huntley said...

I disagree with your position. The price of the images fit a business model that works and makes sense. The fact that you only make 0.25 per photo is irrelevant. What if someone walked into your yard, turned on the faucet, and started drinking your water. Are you going to stop them? Of course, not because that drink only cost you less than a nickel on your water bill, but because it's the principle of it all.

David Huntley said...

After reading everyone else's comments I had to leave another. I think you'll find that these microstock sites will be around for quite a while. And as for the term "snap shot" HA! Maybe at one time they allowed snap shots, but in order to have them accepted today, they have to be flawless! The sites I submit to have zero tolerance for noise of any kind. The photos have to have some sort of commercial value. They have more than enough submitters of images, that increases the competition to even get images accepted. I for one see this business model as not only flourishing, but also changing how photographers do business all together.

Mark Scheuern said...

So it's "water coming out of a tap" and the only difference between selling it for 25 cents and giving it away is the principle of the thing, but it's also flawless, of perfect quality, has commercial value, and you have to fight with your fellow contributors to even get it accepted for the honor of selling it for less than what you'd pay for a candy bar.

Yes, the abandonment of rational thought certainly is a new way of doing business.

Anonymous said...

How much did the guy who sold the pet rock make? It's not about single sells it about volume. We're talking about micro-stock images - not art...

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