Encyclopaedia Britannica Pricing For Picture Access

Posted on 6/13/2011 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Last week in a story entitled “Educational Products For Students” I discussed a new educational publishing strategy for making images available to students. In particular I examined Encyclopaedia Britannica's (EB) product called Image Quest and made some estimates about pricing and the royalties photographers might receive for the use of their images. Encyclopaedia Britannica has now provided us with more details of their pricing strategy and we need to revise the numbers.

For access to Image Quest in the United States EB charges school systems $0.65 per-student with a building minimum of $425.00 for unlimited access to the site and unlimited transactions in one year. The company also responds to RFP’s for large districts or states where the per-student pricing can be discounted on a case-by-case basis. Prices can vary depending on the territory.

The Dallas school system with its 25,000 students would pay $16,250 for a one year license instead of the $10,000 I estimated. Of that amount $8,125 would be retained by EB and $3,250 would go to Universal Images Group who created and manages the database. A sum of $4,875 would be divided among all the agencies that have supplied the images to UIG and a portion of that would be shared with the photographers. Assuming photographers receive a 50% royalty (very rare today) the total photographer share would be $2,437.50. The actual amount a photographer will received is based on his proportional share of total transactions. For example, if one photographer has 200 transactions in a year out of a total of 700,000 then his share of the fee paid by the Dallas school system would be $0.70. Currently there are 2.3 million images in the database and new images are being added all the time.

In the first three months that the UIG database has been available to the Dallas students they have been accessing images at a rate of about 700,000 transactions per year. At the current rate each student will download an average of 28 previews in a year. That works out to about 2.3 cents per image viewed. Of that, the creator of the image will receive about 3/10th of a penny of less. The image creator must have at least three images transactions to earn a penny.

It should also be recognized that as students and teachers become more familiar with the many ways this resource can be used it seems likely that each student will have many than 28 transactions in a year. If the price for access remains the same then the value of each transaction could decline substantially and the viewing of many more previews would be required to earn a penny.

This Is What Images Are Worth!  

Many of my readers will be in a state of shock over these numbers. However, before going into a rage, or having a stroke think carefully about what you currently receive for educational use of your images.

Let’s say that the gross sale price for a 10 year license to use an image in 1,000,000 copies of a textbook is $500.00. Actually, I recommend that photographers charge $1,254 for a quarter page use, but very few photographers ask for such fees. (See price schedule.) Alamy would charge $305. Getty would charge $425 and with Getty there is no limit on the number of copies the publisher can print. Of course, if the sale is being made by an agency the photographer will receive a percentage of these fees. It is also important to remember that most textbooks are used by multiple students over a period of years. We don’t know how many students actually open their books and really look at the images inside, but an image in 1,000,000 printed textbooks could easily be equivalent to 5,000,000 views of the image on a web site over a period of years.

If the photographer received $500 for 1,000,000 views of his image that works out to $0.0005 per view or one cent for every 20 times it is viewed. If such a textbook usage were licensed by Alamy at the company’s current price the photographer would receive one cent for every 50 views. At Getty’s price more views would be required for the photographer to earn a penny because Getty photographers receive a lesser royalty percentage.

Compensation Based On Actual Viewing

There are several interesting things to consider when we start thinking about compensation based on actual views of an image. There are 52 million students in the U.S. Thus, there are roughly 3 to 4 million in each grade with obviously a declining number as they reach the higher grades. If all the students studying a particular subject in a given year were to get interested in seeing one specific image (or even multiple images on the same topic) that could generate significant money for the photographer whose image happened to be chosen. Even if a photographer only received one cent for every three views of his image that could generate $30,000 from that image in a year.

Maybe students will start looking at more images. Take a subject like magnetism. In most science textbooks there will be at most one image illustrating magnetism. Lots of images will have been submitted for consideration, but only one will have been chosen. One lucky photographer gets a royalty and everyone else gets nothing. On Image Quest there 613 image keyworded magnetism. If a student goes to the site to look for information about magnetism, will he only open the preview a single image, or will he open several, particularly since it is not costing him any more to open several previews than to open one.

One thing newspapers are learning is that when they show one image in the paper, or even just a notice that says “images on this story on our web site” many of customers will go to the web site and look at a whole series of images on the subject or event. If students react in the same way, many images that will never be chosen for a printed books may now have the chance to be seen and earn a fraction of a penny for the photographer with each viewing.  Photographers will be compensated based on how many actual individuals are really interested in looking at their work.

Limited Use

The license limits use of the images to very specific educational purposes. The language of the agreement is as follows:
    “You may display, reproduce, print or download content on the Services only for your personal, non-commercial use. If you are a teacher, scholar or student, you may copy reasonable portions of the content for lesson plans, interactive whiteboards, reports, dissertations, presentations, school newspapers and for similar nonprofit educational purposes to the extent permitted by applicable law. In each case, however, you may not remove or alter any copyright, trademark, service mark or other proprietary notices or legends. You may not publish, distribute, retransmit, sell or provide access to the content on the Services, except as permitted under applicable law.”
Students are not allowed to use the images on their personal web sites or blogs or post them on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or other web sites that are not directly school related. They may not use them on their cell phones. For those who want to use Quest images in other ways Britannica provides a request form where the customer can outline the potential use and that information will be passed along to the appropriate agency. Some photographers worry that once the images are available on this web site students will disregard the license and use the images in any way they choose. However, according to the license agreement the school is responsible for unauthorized uses. As a result most schools using the system will probably expend some effort in educating their students about copyright.

Copyright © 2011 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 www.selling-stock.com, 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: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


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