Pricing Problems At Getty Images

Posted on 2/24/2011 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Getty’s move to sell some of its royalty-free images on both and is presenting some problems in pricing usages and is sure to drive more Getty Images customers to iStockphoto.

Consider the prices for usage of Jay Sauceda’s picture of a Fragrance Bottle that appears on both Getty Images and iStockphoto.

  Getty Images iStock Credits iStock Price
280 x 280 px $5.00    
347 x 346 px   1 $1.33
414 x 414 px $35.00    
693 x 693 px   3 $3.99
1025 x 1025 px $130.00    
1386 x 1385 px   7 $9.31
2728 x 2728 px $340.00 10 $13.30

Obviously, the iStock image is a slightly larger file size and significantly cheaper in every case. I have included the actual iStock price based on the customer buying a 600 credit package for $800.00. If the customer bought a smaller package of credits the price in each case would be slightly higher, but in all cases less than the Getty Images price.

Some might ask why I didn’t pick a 12 credit package for $18.50 instead of the 600 credit package. If the customer had only wanted one image and intended to make a small use of the image that would have been an option, but my reason for choosing 600 credits will become clear in a minute.

Suppose an iStock customer wanted to use the largest file size and print more than 500,000 copies of a brochure or ad. The customer would have needed to purchase “unlimited reproduction rights” which costs an additional 125 credits. This would have raised the total price to $179.55. Unlimited printing is included in the Getty price.

Now, suppose the same customer needs a “multi-seat” license so several different art directors can use the same picture for different projects. That is another 75 credits raising the total price to 210 credits or $279.30. We’re getting closer to the Getty price.

There are three other options that iStock customers might need which could push up the number of credits required and the price even further. They are:
    1 – Item is for resale and the number of items sold is expected to be greater than 500,000 – Another 125 credits.

    2 – Electronic item for resale (unlimited run) – The fee for this is another 125 credits, but in this case the customer would not have to also pay 125 credits for the “unlimited reproduction rights”.
    3 – Extended Legal Guarantee up to $250,000 – Another 100 credits. If the picture was the kind of thing that might have required a model or property release this option might provide added security for the customer.
Getty Images doesn’t offer the Extended Legal Guarantee, but the other two items are included in the Getty price. It is conceivable that a customer would have needed 435 credits to purchase all the rights needed to use this image rather than just 10 credits.

A few customers who intend to use the image as part of a product for resale, and anticipate selling more than 500,000 items, may find the Getty price less expensive. For everyone else iStock is the place to go.

Other Points of Interest

This image has been licensed over 100 times on iStockphoto. While it is a very interesting photo from a technical and artistic point of view I would be surprised if it has been licensed even once on Getty Images.

This iStock picture is part of Getty’s Flickr collection, but it was first uploaded on iStock on September 25, 2007, well before Getty started accepting pictures from Flickr in 2008. Thus, it seems that Getty is not only getting images from Flickr, but also pulling some images out of the iStock collection, placing them in its Flickr collection and charging its customers more to use the image. How long will it take customers to figure that out?

One thing we can certainly say about royalty-free pricing. It is no longer simple.

Copyright © 2011 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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