Pricing Editorial Web Uses

Posted on 10/22/1999 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



October 22, 1999

As we have used the chart on page 220 of Negotiating Stock Photo Prices we have

come to the conclusion that while these prices are appropriate for advertising

and corporate uses a different structure is needed for editorial uses. As a

result we have established the following policies for pricing editorial uses

on the web.

Editorial - Web

The following schedules are aimed at pricing usages on sites whose major

purpose is to collect and disseminate information, not sell products and

services. If a site is filled with products for sale and lots of advertising which

is different from what appears in the print publication then you should use the

schedules for commercial and corporate uses that can be found on page 220 of the

current edition of Negotiating Stock Photo Prices. An example of such a site which

is more commercial than editorial, and where the commercial schedules should be

used, is Interactive Week whose web site is hosted on Ziff Davis's main site which

is filled with products for sale and lots of advertising which is different from

that in the magazine.

These decisions must be handled on a case by case basis.

BASE FEE **   



or 50% of the print use fee Whichever is higher***   

    ** This is for first, non-exclusive use on the web. This fee covers only the

    initial use period and does not include archiving. The initial use is for the life

    of a single issue of the print publication, if there is a print publication. If

    the print publication is a daily this fee covers one days use; a weekly the fee

    covers one weeks use, etc.

    If there is no corresponding print publication (MSNBC for example) the fee would

    cover one cycle before stories are changed, or somehow archived. This will vary

    from site to site and may need to be researched.

    The seller can license simultaneous uses on other sites unless an "exclusive"

    license is purchased. The exclusive license should be at least an additional 200%

    add on to the base price, but it might be greater for particularly unique or

    newsworthy images.

    *** If the space rate for the print usage is $400 then the additional fee that

    would be charged for the on-line use should be $200. All additional fees for

    archive use should be calculated on the "Base Fee" number.

    In no case should the "Base Fee" for on-line usage be less than $150.


Add 25% to 50% of Base Fee   

This might also apply to lead sections. For example a football picture might not

be on the lead page of, but it would be on the lead page of the NFL

section. In this case we would consider the picture on a "Lead Page"

(For certain unique or newsworthy images this Add-On percentage might be higher.)





1/4 screen or smaller   

Base Fee   


between 1/4 and 1/2 screen   

Add 30%   


larger than 1/2 screen   

Add 60%   

This premium would also apply if it is possible to click on a smaller images and

see a larger version.

The archive figures come into to play for any usage beyond the "First Issue"

use. These figures should be added to the Base Fee price.






up to 6 months   

Add 50%   



6 mo. to 1 year   

Add 100%   



1 year to 5 years   

Add 200%   



5 years to 10 years   

Add 250%   




Add 300%   


(While the buyer may want "forever" rights for the convenience of not having to go

back and delete material from the site, the vast majority of images will probably

never be referred to after a few years. However, there will be certain historic

exceptions i.e. Hindenberg crash, First step on the Moon, JFK assassination, etc.

Such uses should command much higher rates and be negotiated separately.)

(In all cases when licensing web uses, but particularly for archive uses, get the

specific web address for the image so it is possible to track the length of time

the image actually remains available.)

Encyclopedia or Catalog Uses

For uses of a single image the above price schedules should apply. However with

encyclopedia or catalog uses a volume sale is often possible. In these cases the

following discounts MAY be appropriate:






at least 3 but less than 6 images

$120 each



at least 6 but less than 11 images

$100 each



at least 11 but less than 21 images

$90 each



at least 21 but less than 41 images

$80 each


The percentage figures are the percentage of the "Base Price." If a higher base is

used then the discounts should be figured by percentage.

In offering discounts the uniqueness of the image needs to be considered.

Discounts may not always apply.

We believe that these discounts should only apply when the images are coming

from one photographer. Thus, if an agency sells 40 images from many different

photographers the images would not be offered at the 40 image discount price. If

10 of the images came from one photographer and no other photographer had more than

2 images in the package the ten images should be billed at $100 each and all the

rest of the images should be billed at the full "Base Fee" of $150 each.

In deciding whether or not discounts should apply it is important to consider the

subject and the availability of other options. If the catalog is a general

encyclopedia and the picture is of a family having a picnic there will be many

options available and the picture is likely to need frequent updating.

If it is an encyclopedia of dogs, there may be fewer options available to the

buyer. A good image could be used forever because a certain species of dog will

always look the same. Thus a different discount may be appropriate depending on

the length of rights the buyer wants to purchase.

If the picture is of an extinct or dying people group the image may have a long

useful life and never need to be changed. In this case discounts should not apply.

General Pricing Principles

It may be reasonable to price certain subject matter differently. Feature uses may

have a more long range potential than certain news uses, but news uses may receive

many more hits initially. Therefore, breaking news uses might command higher fees.

Pictures with long range feature value would achieve their value through the

archive multiples, not necessarily a high initial "Base Fee".

For example, a buyer might want to archive a feature image that was of interest to

only a small segment of the population, but might have long term interest. In such

a case the buyer might be reluctant to pay the standard base fee. It might be

justifiable to lower the initial Base Fee, but use the standard percentage

multiples to calculate the archive uses. This will result in a lower overall

fee, but much more than if the seller were to hold the line on the base price, and

not charge for the archiving.

We do not think it is wise to go below the $150 Base Fee rate if there is no added

Archive potential to the sale.

Internal Archiving

Some publications want to "Archive" your images for their own internal editing

purposes, but not make these archives available to the general public. These

publications agree to pay the photographer whenever the picture is used in a future


Normally, no "Archiving Fee" would be charged for this type of archiving.

This is dangerous practice because there have been many past examples of

publications using such images and failing to notify or pay the photographer for

the use. If at all possible, avoid such agreements. Instead put the images into

a on-line archive like PictureQuest (or others that will be

developed by stock agencies), or your own URL. Require the publication

to search one of these sources where you retain control. Many publications

may insist that they be allowed to keep your images in their catalogs, or worst

yet, maintain such catalogs and not tell you.

The next best solution to this problem is to put two clauses in your contract with

the publication. The first requires the publication to pay for all uses within 30 days. The

second says that if the photographer discovers a use that was not paid for within

the prescribed time the photographer may bill, and the publication agrees to pay,

three times the normal usage fee.

If it is in a written contract the publication has an incentive to set up

management practices that encourages prompt payment for all

uses. Otherwise, the publications will only pay the normal fees when they get

caught -- and nothing otherwise.

Commercial and Advertising Web Uses

We want to point out that the web pricing schedule originally developed by Seth

Resnick, and which appears on page 220 of the current edition of Negotiating Stock

Photo Prices,

is still very appropriate for commercial and advertising uses on corporate web

sites. The numbers quoted above are not a replacement for that schedule, but a

supplement to it. Resnick's schedule is very useful for certain

types of uses.

It is important to distinguish between "corporate" and "editorial" uses. In some

cases the distinctions are blurred. In such cases the seller may want to develop a

price that fits somewhere between the figures on these two schedules.

Copyright © 1999 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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