StockFreeImages Aims To Support Digital Advertisers And Protect Consumers

Posted on 5/15/2013 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (2)

Dreamstime just released the following to the press cautioning image user to be careful about grabbing images off the Internet because they could be “violating someone’s copyright.” To aid users in protecting themselves Dreamstime offers a collection of images at

Stockfreeimages are licensed under the Royalty Free license, which means you license the image once and then you can use it as many times as you like, with just a few restrictions. The site was launched in 2012 and in March of that year had 7,200 registered members and around 352,200 free images from 16,110 photographers. In March 2013, the site had 179,035 registered members and will soon reach one million free images from 29,634 photographers. Approximately 2,000 new users join StockFreeImages each day.

Here’s the press release:

    Dreamstime Recognizes Latest Industry Shift From Print to Online Advertising
    StockFreeImages Offers Free Images to Support Today's Digital Advertisers
    And Protect Consumers

    Adding a few high quality photos is a great way to improve a website, blog or presentation. And while most search engines can quickly locate just about any shot you could ever want, using them could end up violating someone's copyright.

    Marketers today need to be cautious when copying images from online sources---there can be numerous legal and financial implications, especially with regard to ownership and infringement. The bottom line: If you aren't sure who owns the copyright, or if a specific image is copyrighted, then just don't use it.

    There are plenty of images that can be obtained for free. In response to the needs of today's digital advertisers, designers, webmasters and bloggers, royalty-free image database offers the largest collection of free images on the web. The photos span a wide range of topics, addressing whatever visual requirement creative users may have.

    Owned by Dreamstime, a distinguished leader in stock photography worldwide, Stockfreeimages also serves as the next step in image copyright protection for both contributors and consumers. Stockfreeimages helps users protect themselves from the costly fines that often result from copyright violations. Image use is completely free of charge, but site terms do require users to provide attribution via a credit line.

    According to Serban Enache, CEO and co-founder, Dreamstime, despite the costly consequences of copyright infringement, illegal downloads are still pretty regular occurrence.

    "There's no doubt that there is a strong need for free content in today's advertising market," Enache said. "While some people can't afford to pay for content; others don't want to pay, even though they still need specific images. It has become an unfortunate habit for many consumers to use a search engine to download a free image, often infringing someone's copyright, and putting themselves in jeopardy. With, users can have peace of mind that any image they download is not only free and safe, but also is legal."

Letter To Serban

I can’t see how promoting the concept of Stockfreeimages can in any way benefit image creators. I see how it benefits graphic designers and other consumers by removing legal risks, but I can’t see that it will do anything to cause these images user to actually go out and buy additional imagery from a source like Dreamstime. Why pay for anything if you can get everything you need for free? What are the incentives to switch to a pay model?

If we assume that all image creators are engaged in the activity solely for the joy of creating and knowing that someone else likes their creation then maybe Stockfreeimages is a way to let more people see their images. But, I think many creators (like Dreamstime contributors) would like to receive a little economic remuneration from those who use their images as evidence that the images have some value. Most also feel that if they were to receive a little money it would enable them to go out and produce even more and better work.

I also note that there is a new company called that is making over 62 million free Creative Commons licensed images available to bloggers for easy insertion into their WordPress pages. I know you had nothing to do with this, but when is enough, enough?

It seems to me that the more free images there are available the more it devalues imagery in general.

Please help me understand how Stockfreeimages can benefit Dreamstimes contributors, or for that matter Dreamstime managers and owners. What am I missing? What am I not understanding?

Serban’s Explanation

You might be unaware of the number of downloads that occur through search engines like Google Images, Bing or Yahoo. The stock photography numbers pale in comparison.?People think that if an image is to be found there it can be used for free. There are even?subtleties where some people think that an image without an watermark found on such?engine can be used because the search engine researched in advance and found it "clean".??

Stockfreeimages is a pilot project that allows users to accommodate to stock photography?through free downloads and then migrates them to Dreamstime. It also asks them to pay a?subscription once they download a certain number of free files in order to get access to the high res versions. These subscriptions are more recent but they do compensate the?photographer.??

The content on SFI is significantly below Dreamstime's standards. Only photos with no sales in 4 years are added to this collection. They may be free but they require more work and research than the commercial content from Dreamstime. Given the cost, many users prefer to upgrade.??No matter how much we would dislike people getting content for free, this is a trend that?exists and needs to be addressed wisely.

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:  


  • Paul Melcher Posted May 22, 2013
    Fascinating. for multiple reasons:
    1) the complete lack of reaction of the industry. It used to be that those kind of sites would trigger an uproar. Here, it is only silence. I am assuming it has become so common, no one cares.
    2) the fact that a company whose core business is image licensing would cannibalize itself with a free offering.
    3) In order for this to work, and compete with a Google image search for example, the would need to do a lot of marketing ( and SEO). And in order to cover the cost of this marketing, they would need to convert a lot of the visitors to paying buyers. As much a $3 difference is not a barrier, going from zero to anything is a huge step.
    4) Handing out free images is not educating anyone. In fact, it is saying that other images should not be licensed for a fee.
    5) is this a desperate move ? after all, Dreamstime is being crushed buy Istock, Shutterstock and Fotolia.

    There are hundreds of similar free stock image sites so this experience is probably not going to achieve anything. Nevertheless, it is a surprising move from a company that used to be smarter than that.

  • Lynn Eskenazi Posted May 24, 2013
    I agree with Paul - I don't see how giving images away for free can help educate anyone - all it does it tell them images should be free and they will think all photos found on line are 'free' hurting all companies and photographers trying to license their images with more copyright infringements. How he thinks this helps his business is crazy.
    This will continue to hurt our industry big time!

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