Rights Managed Future At Getty

Posted on 5/30/2019 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

A stock agent asked if I had heard a rumor that Getty isn’t selling RM images anymore.

The rumors are almost true. I did a story back in March entitled the "End of RM" where I reported that Getty Images personnel were telling some stock agency suppliers that in 3 to 5 years there will be no more RM licensing.

For Getty I think it will be a lot sooner than that. Here are some numbers to consider. Currently Getty has 2,402,316 RM images in its collection and 23,216,223 RF images. Thus, the Rights Managed images make up 9% of their collection. They are pushing all of their RM suppliers to convert their images to RF. Their current largest supplier and the organization with the most images in the collection is EyeEm. All these images are RF and they make up 24% of the total Getty collection.



While Getty still offers RM their default search is for RF only. As a result a significant percentage of customers never even see any of the RM images.

For comparison, back in 2006 Getty had 973,933 RM images in its collection and 787,281 images that were RF. The RM images represented 55% of Getty’s total collection at that time and generated $325.93 million in revenue for Getty that year.



The RF images represented 45% of the collection and generated $308.17 million in revenue for Getty in 2006. Thus, total Creative revenue for Getty in 2006 was $634.10 million. In 2018 we believe total Creative revenue revenue was about $280 million, less than what Getty earned in 2006 from RM alone.

If Getty’s 2018 earning from RM were proportional to what they earned from RF based on the number of images in each collection they would have probably earned about $25 million from RM. I suspect RM earnings were actually closer $50 million, given that Getty still makes a few significant sales annually of over $1,000. Nevertheless, RM is still a very small percentage of total revenue.

It is also important to note that probably close to 75% (and growing) of all Getty sales are made through Premium Access deals. With these deals the customer pays a fixed monthly fee and gets unlimited downloads of any image in the collection regardless of whether it is RM or RF.



Getty keeps track of the number of downloads and after deducting the “agency share” from the gross the customer paid, divides the number of downloads into the remaining share of the fee to determine the “royalty” for each image used. As a result, royalties paid tend to be below $5.00 for more than 50% of the images used and a significant percent are less than $1.00. Check out this story for more on current pricing.

All in all, my guess is that it will be less than 3 years before Getty stops selling Rights Managed images. They will likely continue to make a few big “exclusive” or “market freeze” sales of RF images by agreeing to withhold the image off the market for a period of time.

Many smaller, specialized agencies will continue to license images based on usage (RM) and there will continue to be a segment of customers who will be happy to pay higher prices in order to get access to a well curated collection of top quality images. The challenge for these small agencies will be in making these customers aware that they exist.


Copyright © 2019 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 www.selling-stock.com, 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: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  

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