04 Jun 2012 Are You Selling Extended License Rights for Subscription-Level Royalties?

Something few microstockers realize is that there’s a huge gap in the license rights that different microstock agencies offer.

Where some microstock agencies require an expensive Extended License for certain rights, others include those rights in their standard license.

What’s worse is that those rights are also provided as part of subscriptions (all microstock agencies apply their standard license for subscription sales).

So a customer who may have bought an extended license, generating $20 – $100 in royalties for the contributor, instead buys on subscription where the contributor gets just 25 – 37 cents.

Veer: Victim of Contributor Ignorance?

This all could have come out when Veer introduced their subscriptions late last year.

There was an uproar when they announced their plans, and contributors opted-out in droves.

The primary complaint was the royalty rates, but also highly criticized was the decision to include Unlimited Print Run rights for subscription sales.

Veer eventually removed those rights in order to convince contributors to opt back in, but they were justifiably confused. They weren’t proposing anything that wasn’t already being done at Fotolia and 123RF, as you can see in this Extended License rights table.

For some reason none of this came to light. Admittedly this is the sort of thing a microstock blogger could have pointed out.

Extended Licenses at 25-cent Royalty

So while the Veer subscription is now in line with the rest of the industry, Fotolia and 123RF continue to include in their subscriptions the same rights which require an Extended License purchase at other agencies.

Extended Licenses for 25 cents at Fotolia, up to 40 cents at the highest level (nobody is currently at that level).

And Extended Licenses for 36 cents at 123RF.

BigStock doesn’t have subscriptions, but includes Unlimited Print Run rights in the standard license, when the image is “not the primary focus of the design”. Minimum royalty is 50 cents.

What are You Going to Do About It?

We microstockers, as a community, are known to be extremely tolerant of agency antics when the agency has strong selling power.

And BigStock, 123RF and certainly Fotolia have that.

So the vast majority of us will do nothing.

And that’s ok.

This is just something to keep in mind when reviewing your subscription royalties at Fotolia and 123RF, particularly during slow EL months.

  • Eric B
    Posted at 12:09h, 04 June Reply

    So it sounds like we shouldn’t be checking that Extended License radio button when submitting work on Fotolia. That is the best way to protest it, correct?

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 12:21h, 04 June Reply

      That won’t do any good as they’re selling the rights of the other two ELs in their standard license anyway, so you can’t opt out of those.

      And given their earning power you’ll likely hurt yourself more than you hurt them.

      If you really want to protest, I believe there are more effective ways.

      • Eric B
        Posted at 12:30h, 04 June Reply

        Any suggestions?

    • Fotosenmeer
      Posted at 08:24h, 18 June Reply

      I am thinking it all over right now. One decission I made was clear after reading this blog and after looking the development of my downloads in the passed year at Fotolia and 123RF. I saw a strong increase in Subscription sales at Fotolia and 123RF.

      I changed my plans and skip uploading to these 2 . The most successfull images on these stock sites have or will be removed.

      I’m only uploading to iStock, ShutterStock, Canstock, Veer and Dreamstime from this moment on.

  • Sinisa B.
    Posted at 15:20h, 04 June Reply

    Yep! Good point! Ignorance of us contributors, that is true…
    We should promote our portfolios ONLY on agencies where is the best deal for us! I am trying to promote my portfolios only with +50% of royalties…
    Also after this Lee’s post my “promoting selection” will have one more condition, EL license rights!
    Thanks Lee!

  • Leslie Murray
    Posted at 11:26h, 05 June Reply

    Thank you for this blog. After getting two ELs on Fotolia for $4 each, I removed my top sellers from there. And yesterday, after logging on and finding an entire page of sales ranging from 23 cents to 27 cents, I wrote them a protest email and then began deleting my work, and after the next payout I will close my account. I am a professional, not a hobbyist, and I get more than that for my work. As long as enough of us keep our portfolios on sites like these, they’ll keep it up. I say No Thanks.

  • Jean-Marie
    Posted at 15:09h, 05 June Reply

    We could all wish a fair relationship with agencies but the reality so far is different. I fully agree with Lee that loads of contributors are not (fully) aware of the licensing conditions of each agency.

    To sell our images we need to go through agencies (expect Yuri so far) so as we can’t yet modify their general content provider contract rules, we should all realize that’s the way the market is.

    It’s kind of signing a loan by the bank or any insurance contract, we just sign because we need to. If we can’t find a better way to achieve our goals.

    I try to focus on the things I can improve to achieve better (sales) results instead of spending to much time fighting wind mills…

    The stock content industry is fast changing… maybe faster that we all know so let’s keep enjoying what we do or move on.

    • Leslie Murray
      Posted at 20:39h, 05 June Reply

      We might need to sell through agencies, but we don’t need to sell through agencies who devalue us and take advantage of us. At least I don’t! Let’s leave places like Fotolia to amateurs with usernames like “jasonsmom” who are all too thrilled just to see their work in use with no regard for remuneration.

      • Jean-Marie
        Posted at 23:07h, 05 June Reply

        Leslie, just saw an interesting post about Flickr and Getty:


        I don’t think that 80/20 of Getty is correct. But can Getty be considered as “a place for amateurs”…

        I understand what you mean and indeed each contributor is free to upload or not to any given agency. Lee making us aware of some not to “know” license conditions…

        • Cory
          Posted at 11:32h, 08 June Reply

          Interesting article. It’s definitely hard not to get handcuffed to these agencies once the revenue starts rolling in. They seem to be well aware of it too. It took me about a year and half to recover the lost income after I decided to leave both iStock and Fotolia.

          I think it was the right decision to leave both of them though, although everybody has to make those decisions using their own numbers. That said, it does feel a little bit like “Whack a Mole”. You get rid of one rotten agency and another one pops up.

          I guess the only way to really be insured that you get what you want is to sell your images yourself, but that has all kinds of new “fun” challenges as I’ve learned.

  • Leslie Murray
    Posted at 22:07h, 06 June Reply

    Interesting article, Jean-Marie. Thank you I mean merci!

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