More On Price Variations Internationally

Posted on 5/3/2013 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

We reported on price variations to different countries for use of the same photo here and here. Kiratsinh Jadeja who originally raised the issue asked, “Do you think majority of the buyers already know about this and outsource already?”

Here’s my response. I don't think the majority of buyers know about this. Otherwise we wouldn't be making any sales in the U.S. But, certainly all the major buyers with international operations and accountants looking for any way to cut costs know about it. This may explain why Getty offers separately negotiated "Premium Access" discounts to volume users.

Consider this hypothetical conversation between a major publisher with international operations and Getty’s sales staff:

    Publisher: "We're not going to purchase any more pictures from you in the United States since we can license the same rights in India for less than half of what we have to pay in the U.S. In the UK we can license U.S. rights to your images for about one-third of what we would have to pay if we licensed the use in the U.S."

    Getty: "But, isn't it more convenient for your researchers to use our online price calculator rather than calling the UK or India to place the order for the image? We won't tell your researchers that they can license the rights cheaper somewhere else."

    Publisher: "We have offices and staff all over the world. The slight inconvenience isn't a factor when we can save that much money. That goes directly to our bottom line profit.

    And besides you keep telling us 'the customer is always right' and your goal is to offer better service. What can you do for us."

    Getty: "OK, what price do you want to pay?"

    Publisher: "When we license U.S. usage we what the price to be the same as we would have to pay if we licensed the usage in the UK, and we want a volume discount on top of that."

    Getty: "OK, that’s your new price and we'll call it your new Premium Access custom discount."
Some think this kind of negotiation wouldn’t take place because the buyer wouldn’t want to alert Getty to a loophole in their pricing model. Some buyers would just take advantage of the opportunity. Of course, even if the buyer didn’t approach Getty directly if sales volume started dropping off Getty would know they had a problem somewhere.

Fixing The Problem

On the other hand the problem is not that easy to fix. In a world where everyone is trying to sell internationally they still have to deal with local economies If your trying to sell a product in a given country you’ve got the price the product based on what the market will bear in that country. You can’t charge U.S. prices in India and make any sales, although it looks like for some reason that I can’t explain you can charge more in India for at least some products than you can charge in the UK. I didn’t know the economy was so bad in the UK.

Getty could make a rule that buyers could only use an image in the country where they purchase it, but that would upset a lot of people who are doing international business. Their price calculator does charge more if when you use an image in more than one country (three or more is the same). But if you were to purchase in the UK the rights to use an image in both the UK and the U.S. it would be significantly cheaper than if you just purchased the image in the U.S. for U.S. use only.

While the focus here has been on Getty, I suspect every agency faces the same issue. If in a given country one supplier is offering to sell images at a particular price the others must come close to that price if they want to stay in business. One thing that is hard to understand is why the prices are often not that closely tied to the overall cost of living.

Microstock Discounts

It would also be interesting if we had a better understanding of how microstock prices in various countries compare. Are there the same kind of variations. Can I license a microstock image in the UK for one-third of what I would have to pay for it in the U.S. I would appreciate it if few individuals from very countries would search iStockphoto and Shutterstock and report back what they would have to pay for certain uses in their local currency and in U.S. dollars.

Here in the U.S. I can go on and purchase 14 credits for $23.99 or $1.71 per credit. I can purchase a large file of image #8235598 for 12 credits.

I can go on and purchase a one-year subscription to download 25 images per month for $199 per month, or I can purchase the right to download any 2 images for $29.

Send an email to Wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz with any results you uncover.

Copyright © 2013 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:  


  • Jaak Nilson Posted May 5, 2013
    I live in Estonia. It is a small state by Baltic sea in Eastern Europe. I did some time ago research for Corbis RF images for my client.

    I asked from local person of Corbis here and results was that I could get an RF image about 2-3 times cheaply than from Corbis main page. Medium file about for 100 Euros. It is about 130 USD.
    There is actually no option to buy an image directly from Corbis main page. A customer will be directed to Corbis local agency.

    Corbis medium file is about 5 mb and 245 USD, large file 28 mb and 320 USD.

    Jaak Nilson

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