Dollar Photo Club Boycott

Posted on 5/5/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Microstock image contributors are removing images from Fotolia in a boycott of Fotolia’s Dollar Photo Club (DPC) subscription service. So far more than 400,000 images have been removed from Fotolia since April 25, 2014.

Many more have been removed from the Dollar Photo Club offering while continuing to remain on Fotolia. Some contributors who have done comparisons searches on both DPC and Fotolia say that currently there are 20% fewer images on DPC than on Fotolia. More images disappear from DPC every day.

At launch Fotola made all images on its site available through its Dollar Photo Club, but negative reaction from contributors forced them to back down and allow contributors to opt-out of DPC participation.

Initially the DPC terms of use alsi allowed for unlimited use of any high-res image purchased. After stong protests from contributors Fotolia backed down on that as well and limited use of any DPC image purchased to 500,000 printed copies.

Most of Fotolia’s major contributors have many of the same images on Shutterstock. In the last couple of years as Shutterstock has captured market share from iStock, Fotolia, Dreamstime and others Shutterstock contributors have seen their Sutterstock income grow significantly while for most the Fotolia income has been flat at best. Now they fear that with this new offering Fotolia will cannibalize a lot of their Shutterstock revenue without any appreciable increase in Fotolia revenue.

Shutterstock’s subscription product costs $249 per month and allows 25 downloads a day. The problem for many buyers is that they don’t need anywhere near that many images. At $10 per month for 10 downloads and only $1.00 for every additional download the buyer needs Fotolia becomes a real bargain. It seems likely that they will take some market share from Shutterstock and other microstock distributors. However, while Fotolia may be able to grow unit sales, if their current customers switch to DPC and can get the images they need at much lower prices it is hard to see where there will be much revenue growth.

Contributors point out that DPC is not really a “subscription” offering. One of the advantages for contributors of the higher priced subscription plans is that customers tend to download more images than they actually use because there is no additional cost. In these cases contributors royalties, even if their images are not used.

Fotolia’s DPC plan is really an “Image on Demand” “Pay As You Go” plan for those customers who want to only pay for the images they actually use. Shutterstock has had great success in the last year or so in moving some subscription customers to a much higher priced pay for only what you need model. This has resulted in more revenue for both Shutterstock and its contributors. Now, contributors see that revenue as at risk.

When it comes to purchasing single images Shutterstock charges $49 for 5 images or $29 for 2 images. The minimum purchase is 2 images. At the image costs vary from $2 to $3 for Small size up to $10-$15 for XXL size. On the Dollar Photo Club customers can get all the images they need for $1.00 each.

Downward Spiral

It is interesting to consider that a lot of Shutterstock’s growth in the last couple of years has been due to its cannibalization of sales from iStock, Fotolia, Dreamstime and other microstock distributors that charge much higher prices for the larger file sizes. Customers like the fact that with subscriptions they can get full sized images at a significantly lower average price per image. Now, with the Dollar Photo Club Fotolia may be able to take back some market share in terms of number of images downloaded, but the move could also substantially reduce overall industry revenue.

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Copyright © 2014 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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