Use-Based Pricing: Corbis Moves in Right Direction

Posted on 3/1/2010 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (3)

The stock photo industry needs a change in strategy so all images can be made available for all uses at a reasonable price based on the value the customer will receive from using the image. We need to get away from the whole idea of rights-managed and royalty-free and recognize that, in all cases, the price is based on use. Rights-managed licensing has always been much more about pricing based on use rather than on managing rights. The vast majority of rights-managed customers are not concerned with rights control or exclusivity.

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Copyright © 2010 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:  


  • Tim Mcguire Posted Mar 2, 2010
    File size has very little to do with use when media is moving so fast to online electronic uses. Coca Cola and the local PTA President could license the same size image for the same online use and pay the same amount (main image on home page of website). One use is worth much more than the other. Size does not equal use.

    I'd say it's a big stretch to categorize Micro and RF as "use based pricing".

    I applaud Corbis for moving in this direction and encourage them to keep going.

    "Better late than never"... or is it, "too little too late".

  • Lester Lefkowitz Posted Mar 3, 2010
    "Based on usage" sounds swell, but that assumes users know and abide by the limits of the license. Because agencies have done almost NOTHING to police license terms, and now the internet has created a Wild West mentality among users, no one is/will pay attention to restrictions. The Corbis chart, above, has many 3-month constraints. And who do you think is going to police that? The microstock restriction you site: my guess is they are TOTALLY disregarded except by a few paranoid large companies and one or two religious orders. Your ideas are viid, but enforced implementation is just pie in the sky.

    Lester Lefkowitz

  • Jim Pickerell Posted Mar 8, 2010

    It is a big stretch to catagorize micro as "use based pricing", but it is trying to move in that direction because the site owners know the only way they can grow revenue find a way to get more money for some of the larger uses.

    @ Lester

    Policing uses is, and will always be, a problem. But a certain percentage of customers will be honest and abide by the rules. If you tell them they must pay more for billboards or magazine covers most will. In the new environment we're not going to be able to segment our use based pricing as narrowly as we have in the past, but even broad categories is better than one-price-fits-all. And broad categories with a little segmentation is even better yet.

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