August 24, 2006
Stock Artists Alliance (SAA) has written its membership expressing concerns about the plans of Getty Images to launch its Rights-Ready collection called Riser early next month. (See Story 865.)
A major concern is the way Getty phrased its letter to photographers telling them which images had been chosen from the TIB or Stone collections to be included in Riser. The letter required photographers to "opt-out" of the collection, in a very short period of time, if they did not want their images included. It has also been made clear by Getty that photographers can not pick and choose which images they want to include, but must either agree to have all selected images included or refrain from participating in the collection at all.
Since this is a radically new licensing model, substantially different from the traditional RM model, this raises a couple questions. First, does Getty have the right, under its contract with photographers, to move images from one licensing model to another without specific photographer approval? It would seem that under the current contract a signed consent to opt-in would have been required -- rather than simply a failure to respond -- but Getty has not chosen to go that route.
Secondly, it is interesting that so far most of the images chosen seem to have been ones that have not sold or have generated little revenue up to now, and thus photographers might feel that moving these non-income generating images to another licensing model may be of no major concern. However, once Getty has established the principle that it can move from TIB or Stone any image belonging to a photographer who has not specifically opted out of Riser, it would seem likely that better selling images might be moved to Riser in order to balance, upgrade and continue adding new material to the collection. Since the established principle is that no signed consent agreement is needed specific to Riser, once a photographer is in, it is not clear when, if ever, the photographer can decide to opt out.
On another point SAA Executive Director Betsy Reid has been quoted in The Stock Asylum as saying, "We are also concerned about the perpetual duration of the license." The SAA has urged Getty to consider time-limits on rights-ready licenses and Reid argues that "Few image users want to use an image indefinitely anyway. If the rights-ready licensing model were amended to include a simple time limit on each of the license categories, we feel sure that the acceptance and participation among photographers would be better."
While the SAA supports the rethinking of rights-based licensing models Reid said, "Clearly there needs to be an evolution (in licensing models) and we are enthusiastic about the development of evolved forms of rights based licensing that address the changing needs and expectations of image users, as well as protects the concerns and interest of photographers."
To my way of thinking time limits are not a minor issue because as Reid says few users, "want to use an image indefinitely anyway." Much more important is whether there will be any subdivisions to the major categories and the actual price charged for a usage in each of these categories. So far Getty has refused to provide any specifics on these points which makes it very difficult for photographers to determine whether they want to participate on Riser, or not.
From: Betsy Reid
Executive Director, Stock Artists Alliance
SAA sees the issue of time limits as fundamental, regardless of a client's
intentions. Limiting the term of the license provides greater control over
future licensing and enhances the long-term value of photographers'