Alamy Contract Changes

Posted on 3/30/2015 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

In mid-February Alamy published changes in its standard contract that were due to go into effect April 1st (45 days later). A number of photographers, particularly in the UK, had issues with certain clauses and a lively discussion ensued on the EPUK website.

EPUK’s ten specific areas of complaint mainly centered around:
  • Under what conditions re-use licenses would be issued after a contributor has terminated his/her contract with Alamy.
  • The rights a photographer has to chase copyright infringements of images originally licensed by, or obtained from, Alamy.
  • Alamy wish to make a DACS claim on behalf of its members if they are unable or do not wish to do so themselves.
After considering those comments Alamy revised the February 16th contract and published a new version that will go into effect on 14 May 2015. The key changes are explained here. Alamy has also responded to the EPUK. Alamy’s comments and explanations can be found here.

My Thoughts

The frustration of photographers who license their work as Rights Managed is understandable. They were brought up on the idea that customers should pay for images based on how they are used and that the fees should be high enough to enable a hard working photographer to continue to produce.

All that has changed. Now, there are so many good images available that customers have lots of choice. Alamy alone has over 50 million images in its collection and licenses rights to fewer than 500,000 uses annually. Alamy’s competitors offer customers even more choice. With choice in any business comes lower price.

Most photographers can no longer earn enough from having their work with a single agency to afford to continue to produce. If their work is with multiple agencies it is virtually impossible to determine if a use they discover has been legally licensed. This makes it extremely difficult for either an agency or an image creator to gather sufficient information to determine if a use was unlicensed, or to pursue an infringement in a way that is likely to generate more revenue than it costs to chase the infringer. The photographer owns the copyright to the image, but it becomes very difficult to protect that copyright.

Photographers can set up their own sites; license all uses directly and only license at prices they think are fair. But most will find that it is very difficult to make the vast majority of potential customers aware of their site. Most customers will go to the large sites that have the resources to promote and a broad cross section of all types of imagery, not sites of individual specialists.

Given the number of competing large sites, customers always have a variety of good choices for any subject they need. These sites constantly compete with each other for the customer’s attention. That usually means offering broader and broader rights for lower and lower prices.

If a customer finds a photographer’s personal site and an image they would like to use, the price the photographer asks will usually be significantly higher than the customer would have to pay somewhere else. The photographer needs to ask for high prices because he/she will probably make very few sales annually. But the customer will probably go somewhere else and find something very similar for a lot less money.

Some photographers have become so dissatisfied that they are terminating their contracts with Alamy. Unless they already have a very solid personal client base it is unlikely that they will see any net economic improvement. They may, however, have more peace of mind.

Copyright © 2015 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:  


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