15 Sep 2009 iStockphoto Guarantees All Files
Have you noticed iStockphoto recently cleaning up the older photos in your portfolio too? I’ve had old images deleted for not having a model release or having possibly trademarked designs (like cars) as the primary subject of the photo. This cleanup is not just about tightening up the collection. It’s making possible what iStockphoto are announcing today: a legal guarantee for all files.
The iStockphoto Legal Guarantee
As of today, iStockphoto will now cover legal expenses if their customers receive a claim against any trademark, copyright or other intellectual property rights. They will cover legal expenses and damages up to $10,000 per file – image, video or audio. Customers can extend the cover to $250,000 for the price of 100 credits.
What About Vivozoom?
If the idea of a legal guarantee for microstock sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the unique selling proposition of recent market entrant, Vivozoom. They launched to contributors late last year and to buyers earlier this year, offering a $25,000 guarantee ‘per project’ – the first in microstock.
iStockphoto insist their guarantee is not a reaction to Vivozoom and that it has been in planning for a long time, though the coincidental timing will make it difficult to convince people it’s true.
Vivozoom built their business on the basis of research which suggested the absence of a guarantee was keeping a large portion of the stock photo buyer market away from microstock. They believed that a limited number of invited contributors was the only way to build a collection that could be backed by a guarantee. Today’s announcement from iStockphoto says that there’s another way.
Now that their point of differentiation is no longer unique, Vivozoom will have a difficult time keeping their buyers from switching to the larger and cheaper collection at iStockphoto. At the very least, they have some updates to make to their Warranty page and their branding.
Changing the Industry
Contributors’ reports of sales at Vivozoom are particularly unenthusiastic, which is not unexpected so early after their launch. If Vivozoom had achieved a high sales volume in a short time it would have provided instant proof of concept for an image guarantee. That doesn’t mean it won’t prove a substantial difference, but now that it’s not just Vivozoom offering a guarantee it won’t be so clear.
Other microstock agencies may find it difficult to follow iStockphoto’s lead on warranting files. Their high volume and low commissions gives them the necessary liquidity to finance the strategy. Their persistently high standards on file legalities, combined with the recent cleanup, gives them the necessary confidence in their collection. The backing of industry leader Getty Images can’t hurt either.
For more details see the Legal Guarantee FAQs at iStock.