Micros Step Up Legal Guarantees

Posted on 10/20/2009 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

This month, microstock segment leaders iStockphoto and Shutterstock announced legal guarantees for the user-generated content sold through their Web sites. Such moves answer customer demand and make doing business more difficult for traditional agencies and micro newcomers that have focused marketing efforts on the legal hygiene of their collections.

Traditionals, including Getty Images and Image Source, have often used the legally pristine state of their stock images as a key selling point, particularly with high-end professional customers. Newcomer Vivozoom claimed to be the first company to guarantee the legal safety of its microstock collection with a $25,000 warranty. At the time of its launch last May, Vivozoom’s Web site quoted iStock and Shutterstock’s Terms of Use, highlighting that the two companies do not offer similar protections. (Vivozoom has since removed references to iStock but added excerpts from Fotolia’s TOU.)

iStock’s recent announcement upped the ante to $250,000. The Calgary company now offers customers formal protection from copyright, moral right, trademark and other intellectual property and rights of privacy disputes. If a customer receives a claim, iStock will cover legal costs and direct damages up to a combined total of $10,000. The $250,000 level of protection is available with the purchase of an extension of this legal guarantee for 100 iStock credits.

The company has always stressed its rigorous inspection process, which the company says prevents most common legal issues. iStock also keeps a technical wiki on copyright and trademark issues, which vary by country.

Today, Shutterstock joined the party by announcing a new plan to protect its stills and footage. It now guarantees its entire library of more than 8.5 million images and 140,000 footage clips by providing up to $10,000 to cover legal costs and direct damages for claims arising from the use of an image or footage clip licensed through Shutterstock. Similar to iStock, Shutterstock’s announcement emphasized the New York company’s “thorough and selective review process [that results in] images that comply with the highest legal and ethical standards in the industry.“

Copyright © 2009 Julia Dudnik Stern. 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


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