Selling Individual RF Images

Posted on 1/6/1998 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



January 6, 1998

Photographers supplying images to Royalty Free companies, and receiving a

percentage of sales rather than a flat buyout of their images, should examine

their contracts to determine what they will be paid when rights to individual

images are licensed.

This is important because the RF companies are moving very rapidly toward

licensing rights on-line rather than selling CD-ROM's. It may be a few years

before more images are individually licensed than discs sold, but this trend can

drastically change the economics for the photographer.

The current trend is to pay the photographer 20% of the gross sale of the

product irrespective of whether it is a disc, or an individual image. (In fact,

some photographers who have been with some of these companies for several years

will get less than 10%.)

The RF producers claim that at the $70 per image price for unlimited use that

they have to charge, they can only afford to pay 20%. I would argue that they

might be able to charge $100, or more for that on-line use since the competition

- traditional stock - is still priced much higher. They don't seem to think so.

If they charged $100 and paid the creator 30% they would still be making more

per unit sale than when they get 20% of $70. Their argument would be that their

unit sales will go down if they raise the price. I can't quite see why that is

going to happen because the clients still need the images and there is no

cheaper alternative, but that is what their financial projections show.

The interesting thing is that if they do figure out how to raise the price it is

highly unlikely that they will voluntarily rasie the percentage they pay the


On the other hand, if they begin cutting the price below $70 to try to increase

market share they are going to want to cut the photographer's royalty even lower

so they can maintain their profit margins at the lower price.

Copyright © 1998 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 301-251-0720, 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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