31 Jul 2009 This Month in Microstock – July 2009

July saw more than it’s fair share of action in the microstock and stock photography business. Big brands Google and Time Magazine also contributed to the landscape of the evolving marketplace.

Microstock News

Getty Images replaced StockXpert ads on Stock.xchng – the world’s most popular free photo website acquired as part of the Jupiterimages purchase – with iStockphoto ads. Search results now show iStockphoto exclusive images above the free photos. Branded as ‘premium’ images, they link back to search results pages containing both exclusive and non-exclusive content.

Shutterstock launched their Tax Center to help contributors complete the paperwork required to comply with US tax laws. The system enables many forms to be completed online and provides instructions for those that cannot.

Dreamstime further integrated social media into their system launching their own Facebook application. Once enabled, it allows Dreamstime members to have their new uploads and other site activity posted on their Facebook wall. The links automatically make use of Dreamstime’s affiliate program, making promoting portfolios extra lucrative. Don’t forget to check out their fun stock rank tool launched late last month.

Fotolia launched a ‘Premium Subscription’ allowing buyers to download images, vectors and video files with a single subscription. The commissions for Premium Subscription sales is 0.05 credits higher, and multiplied by three for vectors and by 10 for videos. Premium Subscription also provides access to the highest resolution photos which were previously excluded from subscription sales.

These commissions rates are similar to subscription commissions at other top microstock agencies for photos and vectors, but substantially lower for video sales. Contributors earn between $3.50 and $4.20 for a single full resolution video sale. The same sale earns the contributor $15 at Shutterstock, $15 – $20 at iStockphoto non-exclusive, and $5 at Pond5 if contributors set the minimum price. As Fotolia don’t have nearly the selling power for video that they do for photos, many contributors are removing their entire video portfolios from Fotolia.

Corbis officially enters microstock plan-B with the closure of SnapVillage tomorrow, August 1st. All traffic to the website will be redirected to the now fully functional Veer Marketplace. Veer Marketplace also joined the ranks of microstock agencies providing the debit Mastercard payout alternative through Payoneer.

Marketplace News

Time Magazine used another microstock photo on their cover. This time it’s a photo of an isolated coin jar with a super-ironic label which reads “The New Frugality” photoshopped onto the jar. The image was purchased from iStockphoto with an extended license at a cost of $150. The contributor received a commission of $30.

Many traditional stock photographers were quick to use the example in their criticism of the microstock business model. They cited rates of $3,000 and $10,000 for a cover photo on Time Magazine. While such high rates may be suitable for more newsworthy photos, they’re well above even traditional stock photo agency rates for the same usage. The discussion has highlighted the usage versus availability part of the stock photo pricing debate.

Google added a ‘rights’ option to their advanced image search to help identify images available for free use with Creative Commons licenses. Daryl Lang, true to form, found copyright images marked as available for commercial use.

Google does include an appropriate disclaimer in the announcement and help pages explaining that images are indexed according to how they’re marked on each website. People wanting to use the photos need to do the usual due diligence to avoid exposure to legal risks.

  • Komar
    Posted at 11:33h, 31 July Reply

    I saw the time image a while back, but just got the connection. ‘Time’ are also being frugal in buying a microstock image.

  • Rafal
    Posted at 16:06h, 31 July Reply

    Lee, I think you misspelled the Stock.xchng URL 😉 It should be sxc.hu …

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 16:18h, 31 July Reply

      Thanks Rafal, I can’t even claim that one was a typo! It’s corrected now.

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