20 Oct 2009 Next to Guarantee Photos is Shutterstock

Guarantee Stamp stock photoI don’t know how long these things take to put together, but this is awfully soon after iStockphoto started providing their guarantee. Today, Shutterstock have announced that all images and footage licensed from this day forward is covered by a guarantee.   The guarantee covers all the usual issues for up to $10,000 per subscriber.

The news likely comes as another blow to new microstock agency, Vivozoom. Their extensive research indicated a large portion of corporate America wouldn’t buy microstock because the agencies didn’t provide indemnification. So they built their agency with a strategy to target this market: contributors by invitation only and warranted imagery. Now it turns out that providing a guarantee isn’t so difficult for crowdsourced microstock agencies.   The two largest agencies have introduced guarantees within a year of Vivozoom’s launch, undermining their unique selling proposition.

Like with the Vivozoom and iStockphoto guarantees, Shutterstock reserves the right to manage the case for defendant subscribers. The Vivozoom guarantee covers up to $25,000 ‘per case’ while the iStockphoto guarantee covers up to $10,000 ‘per file’. In this regard, if anyone is even interested in this level of detail, the Shutterstock guarantee compares poorly by covering $10,000 ‘per subscriber’

Given the timing of these two announcements, it’s not unlikely that we’ll see more agencies introduce guarantees in the short term in order to stay competitive. When the two largest competitors determine it’s worthwhile, it must be difficult for the rest not to follow.

Who’s next?

  • rod
    Posted at 20:28h, 20 October Reply


    Guarantees for ‘per subscriber’ ? I can’t find this in SS announcement. For a non native english speaker, it’s a little complicated to understand the announcement clear 🙁 🙁 🙁


    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 22:52h, 20 October Reply

      Hi Rod, I’m not sure that detail was part of the announcement. Before the announcement was released I asked if the $10,000 was per file or per case and they responded with: “Shutterstock will pay up to $10,000 in indemnification per subscriber.” That’s probably why you can’t find it.

      Feel free to ask questions about other specifics of the announcemet. I’ll make everything clear for you.


  • Don Farrall
    Posted at 10:16h, 26 October Reply

    None of this means that there won’t be stolen images on microstock sites, it just means that the Agencies will fork up some money to defend suites against end users. HOWEVER, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), (a poorly written set of laws) already protects everyone involved except the creators of the original works. Put simply, it’s a marketing gimmick. These are simply insurance policies based on the odds that given the poor laws in place the likely hood of an end user being sued for unauthorized use are non-existent. If an image is sold with a phony release the responsible party (by law) is not the agency, it is the contributor, who may be in Belarus… good luck with any prosecution in that case. It is my understanding that agencies that are doing this have thrown out some old images that were accepted without much scrutiny regarding property and talent releases, and that is a good step. However, the underlying issue that there is no verification of copyright ownership in the “Crowd-sourced” marketplace continues. In the end I suppose buyers don’t really care as long as they are off the hook, and because of DMCA the most they risk is being told to stop using an image, and there is no evidence that when these issues have come up that agencies have even done this. Even with these guarantees in place, microstock sites are not free from pirated content. Look up DMCA and read it yourself. It sounds good at first, but it is in place to protect content distributors, not content creators. An excerpt: “the DMCA’s principal innovation in the field of copyright, the exemption from direct and indirect liability of internet service providers and other intermediaries”. Translation in a court is “Agency gets protection” under claim that “we didn’t know it was stolen, or falsified.” end user is protected under same, and true content owner is screwed. All this being said, it is clear that this “benefit” did little to put Vivozoom on the map, very little indeed.

  • Stock photo blog
    Posted at 07:58h, 28 October Reply

    I pretty much agree with Don; the primary benefit of this is as a marketing tool for the agencies. No doubt the other major micros will have to rush out something similar simply to be not seen as offering a below par product. It is interesting this move has come after the big players in the world of traditional stock bought into microstock, bringing with them their ideas and knowledge of what buyers not yet using microstock might want to get tempted?

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