26 Jan 2016 Creative Market Struggles with Licenses

Last December, Creative Market got rid of their over-simplified one-license-only system and introduced Extended licenses. The move was long overdue, since many contributors had been ‘hacking’ the system by offering Extended rights as ‘products’ in their shop-fronts.

The negative response from users made them revise the terms again, announcing more modifications last week.  But once again there has been a lot of negative reaction. The core of the complaints centres around their adding of limited resale rights into the Standard License.

The Problem With Simplifying Licenses

The new licenses introduced on December 10th 2015, divided the structure in two tiers. “SimpleLicense” became the lowest priced and default license, and was pretty much a standard RF license except for including unlimited print runs. At higher price, the Extended License included the additional right to use items for resale.

The complaints didn’t take long to rise. Contributors were able to set their own prices for both license types, but there was no opt-out for the new extended rights offer. Many of them had decided to ‘hack’ the system again by overpricing Extended License prices to discourage sales.

Other downsides were that they had very little time to set their preferred prices, and could only do so manually, one item at the time. Additionally, by prohibiting resale, the Standard License was very restrictive to font licensing, poorly addressing what was called ‘installable items’. And overall the terminology used was too vague and open to interpretation.

On the buyer side, it was suggested that the introduction of a higher price point for resale rights would exclude Creative Market from the budgets of small businesses, hurting sales.

Only a week after introducing the changes, Creative Market issued a very apologetic blog post informing their users that they’d be again revising the changes and inviting feedback.

Every stock photo startup thinks they can “fix” licensing by simplifying it, but there’s a difference between something being broken and something being difficult to understand.

The Problem With Attempt #3

Last week the company announced new proposed updates, slated to be implemented in mid-February. It did not go well.

They’ll add opt-out for Extended Licenses and a bulk price editor, include resale use for fonts in the standard license, introduce a defamation clause for models in photography items and more accurately define the terminology, particularly regarding end products and end products for resale, which were the most confusing terms. So far, so good.

But to address the potential loss of small budget buyers, that are at the core of the company’s USP, the proposed solution is to introduce resale rights into the standard license, limited to 500 items.

Again, the negative reaction from contributors was immediate. Giving resale rights for the price of a standard license is not something many of them are keen to do.

Community Driven Business

Businesses love to tout how they listen to their community, or that their community influences their direction.

By hacking their way around shortcomings and changes, first by creating licenses as a product, then by pricing out extended licenses, Creative Market’s community is doing more than merely influencing the business.

Presumably we’ll see some more tweaking before the new licenses are activated in February.


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