New Service Provides Credit & Revenue When Images Are Used On Social Media

Posted on 9/10/2012 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

PicScout has announced the launch of the ImageIRC Post-Usage-Billing Service designed to assure photographers and content licensors that their work will be properly acknowledged on social media platforms which embrace the ImageIRC Post Usage Billing solution.

However, while the imagery may be credited and customers may be able to legally post professional images on Facebook, Pinterest and other social networking sites the compensation may not be all that significant.

The service is being launched with images from the Getty Images collection. One of the first customers will be SparkRebel recognizes that more professionally produced content on its site will increase the engagement of those who use  their site. Therefore, they want to encourage their user to upload professional content.

Here’s how it works. The platform user (the customer) uploads any image they find to the platform (in this case SparkRebel). The platform has done a deal with ImageIRC (owned by Getty) that checks the “fingerprint” of every image uploaded. If the image is in the Getty Images collection then the photographer’s name is credited to the image. The platform, not the customer, is charged a fee for the use of the image.

However, there may be a few problems.

1 – The platform will not be able to pass this cost on to the customer.

2 – The platform will not receive any increase in revenue as a result of the use of professional images. Since they currently pay nothing for the images that appear on their platform, they will not want to pay very much for the images ImageIRC identifies.
3 – Since Getty Images has always operated on the principle that “the customer is always right,” no matter how little the customer is willing to pay, they will give the images to the platform for whatever they can get – which probably won’t be very much.

4 – Getty will not tell the platform operator, “No, you cannot use our images unless you pay a certain minimum amount per image.” Rather they will accept whatever the platform is willing to pay.
5 – ImageIRC has refused to give any indication of what the minimum fee for this service might be, or even offer a range. All they will say is that the agreement as to how fees will be established will be negotiated separately with each supplier. (Clearly, individual photographers who supply images to Getty will not have a chance to negotiate.)
    a - ImageIRC did point out that Getty already has agreements in place with each of its suppliers that allow Getty to set the price for these usages.
    b – They say there will be no need to establish new agreement for this particular type of usage.
    c – Suppliers will not be able to say, “I do not want my images licensed in this manner,” or “I do not want my images licensed below a certain price.”
Once the service is launched, PicScout will be trying to sign up other agencies and other social media sites.

I predict that the prices Getty has been getting for Premium Access sales will be infinitely higher than the prices paid for Post-Usage-Billing Service usages. If you think Premium Access is already way too low get ready for a new bottom.
Will the volume make up for the low price? Instead of a few people posting an image there may be hundreds posting the same image on SparkRebel or Pinterest or whatever. But the platforms are going to insist on paying a low amount regardless of the number of images actually posted. The fee will probably be set at a fixed amount per month no matter how many images are actually posted. Then the creator share of that fee will be divided equally among all whose images are posted. All the platforms are interested in is the appearance of being legal. Image IRC Post-Usage-Billing Service gives them that.

Whatever Getty charges will set the precedent for the industry. Everyone else will be forced to either accept what Getty charges or allow their images to be used for free by the social media sites.
This system works for companies that own their images and want to get their brand name before the public. For example, a fashion designer, who supplies images to ImageIRC and who has no interest whatsoever in earning revenue from those image, but only in having there name credited beside the image may find this service quite useful.
It will not work for photographers who hope to earn revenue from licensing their images.

For more about the service check here and here.

Copyright © 2012 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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