Getty Relationship with CEF Transparent

Posted on 1/28/2009 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

After Selling Stock published a story on the Compassionate Eye Foundation, which recently raised $250,000 for charity through its partnership with Getty Images, subscriber feedback revealed some confusion about the nature of the relationship between the two partners. Peggy Willett, Getty Images’ director of community and industry relations, offers details on the Seattle agency’s contribution to the non-profit.

As previously reported by Selling Stock, Getty Images has sponsored CEF since its inception in 2005. The CEF image collection, which is donated by participating photographers, has always been distributed through In the summer of 2007, Getty Images announced its plans to donate an undisclosed but major portion of its own proceeds from distributing the CEF collection to the non-profit.

Still, the fact that Getty retains a share of CEF licensing revenue came as a surprise to some photographers, despite the fact that the practice is in line with the stock distributor’s business model. Consequently, some have accused Getty of characterizing its relationship with CEF as charitable to promote itself, while actually making a profit. Though leading production companies—including Blend and OJO—and numerous photographers take part in CEF photo shoots, there are rumors that others have refused because of Getty’s involvement. A photographer who asked to remain anonymous said he donates directly to the non-profit, “so that Getty does not get a piece.”

Willett responds: “We are very proud to be helping a group of our contributors earn funds for their non-profit projects, while also generating revenue for our business.” Adding that the Getty-CEF partnership is a win/win for both sides, she points out that CEF founder Robert Kent’s original intention was simply to receive royalties from the sale of donated images: “Getty Images offered to amplify the royalties, so that the charity receives the majority of each license fee.”

Just as contributing photographers who finance their CEF shoots, Getty Images contributes on the front end. Willett said that the company’s investments in CEF include planning and art-directing many of the Foundation’s shoots, administrative help, design and communications support, and editing time for assigned photographers. The CEF collection also receives a great deal of space on, and over 50 company employees in various roles have been involved in bringing CEF images to buyers.

In addition, Getty Images continues to donate a portion of its own proceeds to CDF. “Our additional shares of each license fee are donated directly to the non-profit, and have actually exceeded the total royalties that the CEF images have earned,” said Willett. Getty Images retains a minority of the license fee, while the majority goes to the non-profit.

Getty’s role in this partnership has been transparent since its initial announcement. The CEF FAQs, the CEF landing page on and other materials clearly state that in addition to all royalties from CEF images going to the non-profit, Getty Images also donates an additional share of its revenue from each licensed image. Kent also confirmed Getty Images’ repeated charitable contributions to CEF in the last statement issued by the two partners.

Copyright © 2009 Julia Dudnik Stern. 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


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