Getty Photographer Get Surprising Insights Into Pinterest

Posted on 4/21/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Getty photographers are getting some surprising insights into the use of their images on Pinterest as they review their Getty sales reports this month. For many photographers over half the reported sales are for “Pinterest/Portal” usage. The gross fee paid to Getty for such usages is $0.03 and the photographer’s royalty share is $0.01.

The royalty share seems to be 35% of the gross fee regardless of whether the photographer’s normal royalty share is 40% (RM) or 20% (RF). Evidently, Getty does not want to get into paying royalties in fractions of a penny.

Back in October 2013 Getty announced that Pinterest had agreed to pay them a fee whenever one of 80 million of the photos and illustrations on is pinned on Pinterest. Getty will track the activity using PicScout.

It is unclear whether Getty negotiated a fixed fee of $0.03 for each photo found, or whether they negotiated a flat fee per month and when they divided the flat fee by the number of photos found it works out to $0.03. It is also unclear whether an image is counted every time it is “re-pinned” or whether it is only counted once regardless of how many times it shows up on the site. Indications from the few sales reports I’ve examined is that there are no instances of the same image being counted twice.

The duration of the license for RM photos is October 1, 2013 through October 31, 2013. This could mean that RM photographers will receive a penny a month forever since it is unlikely that any of these photos will ever be removed. In the case of RF photos no duration of the license is listed. Thus, it is assumed that there is a single payment for unlimited use of the image.

Metadata Fees

Getty makes the point that “these are not image licenses, they are metadata fees.” And they continue, “While these fees are small, associating and monetizing metadata is just the next step in the evolution of our PicScout image recognition technology and our API, Connect, and their practical uses.”

Getty has said that users will be able to see more information about the source of the photos, including the name of the photographer, when and where the photo was taken, and the key words used to describe it.

We have tried searching Pinterest for photographer’s names and have been unable to find any images belonging to the photographers who received payment. We have also searched without success for keywords and data the photographers supplied in their captions. If Pinterest is actually receiving any of the metadata supplied with the images it is hard to see how they are using it.

In theory one of the advantages for photographers of connecting metadata with the images would be so Pinterest users could identify image creators, learn more about the image than might have been supplied by the pinner, and even have a direct link to so they might purchase usage rights. Currently, none of these things seems to be possible. However, this may be coming sometime down the road.

Getty says, “Here are some of the nuts and bolts of how we will work with Pinterest: Images shared on Pinterest will be matched against the PicScout Platform registry to identify exclusive Getty Images house content. We will then provide the metadata to Pinterest for the identified images via our Connect API provided they are not pinned in the context of a licensed use (e.g. magazine cover). Identified, stand-alone content will be associated with the proper metadata, including photo credits and image numbers. In addition, we'll work with Pinterest to make sure that your images get proper attribution and include a path back to our websites, where your content can be licensed. We're working out the details on implementation of the partnership.”


It is unclear whether Getty is searching for images included in the Image Partner collections on its site. Getty says it is using PicScout to match Pinterest images with “exclusive Getty Images house content.” Since much of the Image Partner content is not exclusive to Getty that content may not be included in the search.

Interesting Numbers

Recently, I did an analysis of the number of images licensed annually by Getty. I came to the conclusion the number of Creative Stills (not including the editorial collection) is between 1 million and 1,632,285.

Based on my examination of March sales reports, more than half the uses reported were "Pinterest/Portal" uses. Thus, we might assume that 1.5 to 2 million of the images in the Getty collection appear on Pinterest.

Currently Pinterest has 5 million pins a day or 1,825,000,000 pins a year. So while 2 million pinned images seems a lot to professional image producers they are only a very small fraction of all the images being pinned. Pinterest also has 53 million unique visitors a month.


According to Advertising Age after doing some testing last fall Pinterest is about to start selling ads. They are asking advertisers for spending commitments of between $1 million and $2 million and looking to price CPMs between $30 and $40.

It is interesting to compare the value of an individual image with the value of the metadata connected to it.

Copyright © 2014 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:  


  • Peter Dazeley Posted Apr 22, 2014
    wow, yet again Getty management fail to explain to its contributors, why they are allowing usage for 3 cents. Boy they do know how to demotivate their creators.

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