Getty Demanding Agencies Supply Them RM Exclusively

Posted on 2/4/2019 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Sources tell me that Getty is demanding that U.S. agencies with RM images in its collection make those RM images fully exclusive through Otherwise Getty will terminate the Agreement.

One theory for doing this is that Getty wants to be able to grant exclusive licenses through e-commerce sales. If Getty knows they have total control of a given image, then they would be able to grant exclusive licenses without the need to do any checking with the parent agency that represents the image to see if exclusive rights are available. This would be similar to the arrangement that Stocksy has with its photographers.

Getty may also be trying to further encourage agencies with RM collections to switch most, if not all, of those images to RF as Getty pushes more and more toward an all royalty free collection.

It is interesting to compare some statistics from 2006 with the current image collection size and sales. In 2006 Getty had 1,767,214 images in its collection. At that time 55% of the images in the collection were RM while only 45% were RF. However, of the images actually licensed 64% were RF and 36% were RM because the average price charged for an RM image was much higher than the average price charged for an RF image.

Gross revenue for the Creative collection in 2006 was $634.10 million with 51% of revenue coming from the licensing of RM images while the RF images generated 49% of revenue. RF revenue was slightly higher than its percent of images in the collection, and revenue on the RF side was steadily growing.

Currently, as of today (I don’t have exact figures for the end of 2018) Getty has 29,862,145 images in its Creative collection but only 22% of them are RM. Thus 78% of the images in the collection are RF, and that percentage is growing rapidly. In 2018 it is believed that the total revenue this Creative collection generated for Getty was about $280 million, possibly less, but certainly not more.

If 2018 revenue generated is relatively proportional to images in the collection that could mean that RF sales generated about $218 million and RM sales generated about $62 million. It is certainly possible that RM images generated a somewhat higher percentage of revenue since very occasionally those images sell for much higher prices than RF. I have no hard evidence on how much revenue RF of RM images actually generated.

We do know that Getty’s default search is for RF. Very few of Getty’s customers even look at RM images anymore. We also know that a huge percentage of the RM images licensed are offered through Premium Access deals for prices much lower than typical microstock prices. (See here)

Also check out here for an analysis of which agencies have images in the Getty Creative collection and how many.

Specialist agencies with RM image collections will have some difficult decisions to make. If Getty represents a significant percent of their gross revenue they may have little choice but to go along with the exclusive arrangement or switch all their images to RF. If they switch to RF they may make more unit sales, but they will probably receive a lower royalty share. Also, if they have been making sales through other distributors around the world, they will lose all that revenue if those distributors are unwilling to accept RF images.

If they want to continue to license their images through multiple agencies as RM, their best hope may be to restructure their business so they can get along without Getty sales.

For some historical Getty sales figures see here. For details of Getty’s 2006 sales see here.

Copyright © 2019 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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