New Paradigm For Exclusive Licensing

Posted on 5/3/2012 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (2)

RM photographers Take Note!! With the launch of Yuri Arcurs has taken away your last best argument for why professional art directors and graphic designers should go to traditional RM sites to license the images they need.

On PeopleImage it is not only possible to purchase images for certain uses for as little as $1, but it is also possible to license exclusive use to many of the images on the site. Yuri , has been the worlds top selling creator of people images for more than 4 years. He says, “We want to supply all the needs of high end clients, that want super service.”


Let’s look at some of the features. At launch the site has a total of 70,000 images and 6,400 of them are available for exclusive license. Yuri’s production team is adding between 1,500 and 6,000 new images to the exclusive collection each month. By the end of 2012 he expects to have about 40,000 images available for exclusive license and over 100,000 images in total on the site.   

While the focus of PeopleImages is to go after professional customers, Yuri hasn’t forgotten his microstock base. (Many of those professional customers who occasionally need an exclusive image also have many projects where they just need a good image at the right price.) Currently, there are almost 60,000 images on the site priced at a micro level of between $1 and $73 depending on the file size delivered. Most of these images are also available in many other microstock collections.

Copyright © 2012 Yuri Arcurs
The site offers 3 different collections each at different price points. They are Premium, Pure+ and Micro. Prices for Pure+ images range from $4 to $160 depending on file size delivered and Premium images are priced between $45 and $670. In each category some images are available for exclusive license – currently 43 in Premium, 2885 in Pure+ and 2117 in Micro. Additional fees, over and above the base non-exclusive use price, are charged for exclusive licenses. (More on the exclusive fees later.)

Under each thumbnail the price range for basic non-exclusive use is listed so the customer knows immediately what she’ll have to pay to use the image.

The customer has the option of organizing search returns in four ways -- by newest image uploaded, total downloads, or the choice of Yuri’s editors (best match). No RM site offers customers these options or this convenience. Then, the customer can click “Exclusivity” and see only those images that are available for exclusive use in the search return order selected. The exclusive images are only available on and not on any of the other portals showing Yuri’s images.

Customers can also limit the search to only those images that were produced in the last three months, or by year going back to 2005. They can also limit the search by file size needed or orientation. There is a color picker allowing the customer to search for a particular color palette. Customers can also upload a picture on PeopleImages and the software will provide images that match the color palette of the customer’s image.

Want to see only those pictures with two, three or more people and you can easily set the number. One of the neat things is that you can search by the actual age of the models not just a range of ages. For example, if you want 43 year olds you get 671 pictures, but if you want 22 year olds there are 3603 pictures. In the 50 to 60 age range there are 2111 images.  

Pricing Beyond The Standard License

Like all microstock sites the base prices are for non-exclusive use of the image with fewer than 499,999 impressions of a printed piece and no use in a product. In addition to the Standard License there are 4 different additional license options – Extended, Time Exclusive, Late and Sensitive – for customers with different needs.

An Extended License allows the non-exclusive use the image beyond the 499,999 impressions allowed with the standard license, use of the image within items for resale, use within electronic items for resale or use within “on demand” products for sale for profit. The price for this additional use of a Micro image is $120 and  $140 for a Pure+ image. The base price of a Premium image includes these extended license options.

Copyright © 2012 Yuri Arcurs
When a customer purchases a Time-Exclusive license the images is removed from the site until the exclusive license expires. The prices for exclusive licenses range from $130 to $1,000 for the first month and from $10 to $900 for each additional month depending on whether the image is a Micro, Pure+ or Premium image. The exact amount of the extra fee will need to be discussed with Yuri’s staff.  

Yuri says, “A 5 year time-exclusive license for a highly editor rated exclusive image on PI will cost as much as $15,000. A month for when a campaign is running will only cost about $350, which includes an extended license and the image at full res. Less than the price of an Agency file, but here you get it for yourself. Ultimately I wanted a licensing idea that would be easy to sell and convince a customer to use. My support/sales team will have a blast upgrading images to a time-exclusive license type by means of convincing the customer about the logic in doing this, at least while the campaign is running. Super easy sales pitch. Makes sense and the price is justifiable.”

This strategy is simpler and easier to understand than the typical Macro agency strategy for pricing exclusive uses. It is also spelled out in writing on the site which gives the customers a comfort level and a good idea of what an exclusive will cost before they even call.

A 99% Buy-Out is primarily for Micro images that are widely distributed. It is similar to an Extended License except that the image is also removed from PeopleImages and all other major online stock image distributors. This promise is not a 100% guarantee that the image will be completely removed from all sites as this image has already been distributed to multiple online stock agencies and may already have been sold. They do promise to do their best to remove it from all partner sites. Those who have purchased the image previously may continue to use it. This is a one-time, 10-year, unlimited world wide buy-out. Prices will range from $250 to $3,000 depending on the collection the image comes from.

Anyone who licenses over 1,000,000 uses a year, and whose images are everywhere, is going to discover a lot of unauthorized uses. To deal with that problem Yuri has listed prices for Late Licenses on his site. The price depends on whether the actual use of the image would have been covered under a standard license, or whether an extended license would have been required to cover the use. The Standard fee would be $350 to $3,500 and the Extended would be $750 to $3,500.

Sensitive Issues “includes, but in no way is limited to mental and physical health issues, social issues, sexual or implied sexual activity or preferences, substance abuse, crime, physical or mental abuse or ailment.” Uses of this type must be cleared with PeopleImages in advance and fees negotiated. In mid April a German customer, one of 50 beta testers who have using the site for 5 months,  paid 6500 Euros for a sensitive use of 4 images – even before the site officially went live.  

For more about license types and prices go here.


Customers may go to the “Models” section of the site and see 631 portfolios of models Yuri has uses. They are about evenly divided between men and women. To be included in this section at least 10 images of the model must have been accepted into Yuri’s collection. Obviously many more than 631 people appear in Yuri pictures and each image is totally model released. Models may also upload images taken by other photographers on a non-commercial (portfolio only) basis.

Copyright © 2012 Yuri Arcurs
Click on the thumbnail of any image and not only do you get all the pricing information, but also in the upper right the model’s first name, the number of images on the site in which the model appears and the number of Yuri’s shoots where the model is seen. Click on the model’s name and you see all the images of the model.

It seems likely to me that the value of this feature will extend far beyond helping Yuri to license more stock photographs. I believe assignment customers will use feature to find models for their projects and in many cases hire Yuri to do assignment shoots, assuming he is interested in that.


It is also possible to search by shoot. There are 1248 on the site. The customer can choose among 1248 and organize them by Newness (82 shoots were added in April), Best Selling, Editors Choice or those that are a Maximum of 3 years old.  Roll over the first image shown in any shoot and you see a selection of 9 images. Also listed with the thumbnail is the total number of images in the shoot. And the customer can click to review all the images in the shoot. Customer can also search for New Models, Top Models, Active Only, just Females or Males.


To further hook the customer who may not be that good at Photoshop, or not have the time to do the retouching, PeopleImages team of 35 retouchers offers custom retouching. All images in the collection have already been spot cleaned and wiped for digital mistakes such as fringing, artifacting and banding. The extra  retouching services offered is for unique services over and above these basics. Take a look at this link to see examples of what they offer.


The aiBot is a small robot with artificial intelligence (AI) who's here to help you. His goal in life is to be as helpful as possible, and you just need to get him started by feeding him a few similar images. The aiBot will then process and analyze these images, and based on semantic linking derived from previous behavior of other users and the images' color semilarity values, he will present you with images that are amazingly alike. Let him help you find the perfect images for your project!


At launch the site does not include any video, but Yuri says, “We have a growing collection of about 1200 videos and a video department of 2 full time videographers. We will be adding both audio, video, free vectors, free brushes, free textures and other design goodies.”

Can This Site Have A Major Impact?

Detractors will argue that 70,000 images is really nothing in the age of multi-million image sites. Many small groups of photographers could build such a site if they were to upload every images they shoot (as some do). But that’s not happening here. Yuri’s current team of photographers and production staff are able to push out about 6,000 exclusive very tightly edited images per month. He says, “Our current conversion from RAW to tiff is between 1-2 percent of the images shot. Many shoots end up with only 10-30 selects from 2000-4000 RAWs”. Photographers who like to argue that microstock quality is not as good as RM will not be able to say that about this site.

Will he be able to attract customers? Keep in mind that the combined total of Yuri’s images that were licensed around the world in 2011 was in the range of 1,000,000. Since he got into microstock in 2005 his images have been downloaded between 4,000,000 and 5,000,000 times.

A huge percentage of the microstock sellers are also buyers of photography. They all have heard of Yuri and are likely to go to his site first when they need an image for their next project. If they are looking for people images, and regardless of whether they need an exclusive image, or lots of cheap images, they’ll be able to find an extremely high quality solution on Yuri’s site.

Virtually, all professional buyers have used, and will continue to use microstock for some of their projects. When they have needed people photography in the past most of them have used at least one of Yuri’s images. With all the available search options on PeopleImages it will be much easier and faster for them to find the right image than on any other Micro or Macro site.

In an effort to provide diversity, and because so many photographers want to sell their images, most distributors have added huge numbers of images to their sites in the last few years. While this volume does provide choice, it often requires that buyers spend more time than they would like searching for the right image. PeopleImage will solve that problem for many of them.

Can The Rest Of The Industry Compete?

The only weakness I see in Yuri’s strategy – and possibly an opening for some other enterprising group of stock shooter – is the lack of “variety of style.” Yuri’s images (as is the case with most photographers) have a distinctive style. It is a style that is in very high demand, but customers often need a variety of image styles and “looks.” They may not be able to find that on PeopleImages.

Yuri has always focused on shooting the subject matter that is in highest demand. He has analyzed in great detail what the market wants. His images are easily readable and illustrate a single point. As a result he has an excellent understanding – supported by his sales history – of what the market wants.

Nevertheless, I think there would be room for another site, offering the same features, but with images from a few of the top producing Micro and Macro photographers, to do well. Building such a site; putting together such a group of contributors and deciding who to include and who to leave out would be very difficult, but it could make the images of the members of the group stand out and give Yuri some competition. The strategy of making collections bigger and bigger and paying less attention to quality may be running its course. I fully expect to see sales, and particularly revenue, of all the existing people oriented Micro and Macro sites decline as Yuri takes market share.

Copyright © 2012 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:  


  • Larry Minden Posted May 3, 2012
    Not sure I understand: on the1001th download of a hot selling image the customer buys a 1 year "time exclusive" license but has no knowledge of nor control over how the other thousand customers will use the image. And they're charging as much as $1000 / month? Makes RM exclusives sound like a steal!

  • Yuri Arcurs Posted May 22, 2012
    Hi Larry. Not true.
    Firstly exclusive images are on PI only and have little sales. Secondly we know what they are used for and where. Thirdly the max price is 300 USD per month, which makes RM for which you do not get the image for yourself and certainly not world wide and certainly not for 300 credits ....seem like a totally overprice alternative! Customers are responding well to this option. And are very pleased by the price. Some even think it is too cheap.

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