SIM Lets Contributors Set Image License Fees

Posted on 7/21/2015 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (2)

Hong Kong based Super Image Market launched in November 2014 has established a simple “Pathway” for making images available to customers rather that operating as a traditional agency or distributor. Contributors establish the license fee for each of their images on an image-by-images basis. SIM pays them 80% of every sale. (During the initial launch period until the beginning of 2016 contributors will receive 100% of every sale.)

Most of the images are priced based on the size of the file delivered, but some have a single listed price and only offer a single large file for delivery.

Photographers can adjust the price for each of their images at any time and currently there is no limit on frequency. If an image sells well the price can be raised. If it is not selling the price can be lowered to see if that helps.

Currently SIM has over 500,000 images in the collection. Most sales are in the U.S. while about 80% of their contributors tend to be from Eastern Europe and Asia.

They review images for basic quality standards and subject matter and reject the images with sensitive content as well as those that are pornographic, violent or exhibit religious or racial discrimination.

There are storage charges. For up to 10 gigabytes (approximately 1,000 images) of storage contributors pay nothing, but after that the photographer pays $1 per GB per year for additional storage until they reach and have 10,000 credits in sales. . When photographers get 10,000 sales and reach the 2 flags rating, they can enjoy 100G free storage, while the photographers get 100,000 sales and reach the 3 flags rating, they can enjoy the totally free storage, before that, the 1 flag rating photographers should pay $1 per GB per year.

There are storage charges. For up to 10 gigabytes (approximately 1,000 images) of storage contributors pay nothing. Between 10 and 100 GB of storage contributors will pay $1 per GB per year until they’ve had at least $10,000 in total sales. This incentivizes people to only upload the best images and remove non-sellers after a reasonable period of time. Contributors that use over 100GB of storage pay $1 per GB per year until you have at least $100,000 in total sales. From then on storage is free. The storage fees provide an incentive for contributors to limit the number of similars submitted. Contributors who register before January 1, 2016, will not be  charged storage fees forever.”

While sellers can set the price for using their image as low as $1.00, most of the images seem to available at traditional RF pricing levels. Prices can be adjusted on an image-by-image basis. Thus, if certain images are not selling well the price could be lowered in hopes of increasing interest. Currently, there is no way to search for images at a particular point so it is hard for customers with a budget to find images they can afford. Customers could refine the results by the ranking of price from low to high and find the images at the lowest price.

Model and Property Releases

Unlike many stock distributors “SIM gives no representations or warranties whatsoever as to the existence of any Release associated with the Image,” or “with respect to the use of names, trademarks, logos, uniforms, registered or copyrighted designs or works of art depicted in the Image.” Currently, most of the images seem to have been provided by organizations that have proper releases and carefully remove trademarks, but as more and more amateurs start uploading images that may not be the case. In any event it will be up to customers to insure that sufficient releases exist depending on how they intend to use an image.

Images offered under RF licenses are supposed to have releases if there are people in the picture, but SIM is not collecting copies of those releases.  SIM also offers a “Royalty Limited” (RL) image license. RL images do not have releases and can only be used for editorial purposes.

Cashing Out

If you’ve had over $10,000 in total sales you can cash out each month. With less than $1,000 in total sales you can only case out every six months and with total sales of between $1,001 and $10,000 you can cash out once every three months.

SIM is not accepting single channel grayscale or CMYK files. They prefer uncompressed JPEG files of at least 30MB or more, but will accept files that are a minimum of 10MB. Images should be saved at a high quality setting (i.e. Photoshop level 10 or above) and with Alpha-numeric file names ending in .jpg. Contributors who provide an API service may just provide comp images for display, and SIM will request the hi-res image when a customer makes a purchase.

While they offer a very attractive royalty the big question is whether the modest share of the sale they plan to retain will be enough to allow them to promote the site effectively. They may have trouble making customers aware that the site exists considering the competition from Shutterstock, Getty Images, Adobe and others.

An issue for customers is that currently there is no way to clear the list of “Recently Viewed” images. At present SIM records and displays up to 1,000 images that the customer has recently viewed in order to insure that the customer can easily find images they have viewed previously. Often this is more of a distraction than a help. In the future SIM plans to give the customer the option to clear that list anytime they choose.

Copyright © 2015 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:  


  • Paul Melcher Posted Jul 21, 2015
    " They prefer uncompressed JPEG files of at least 30MB or more". What is an "uncompressed JPEG file" ? Is that like a black white background ? or more like a transparent opaque filter ?

  • Wentao Li Posted Jul 22, 2015
    Thank you for you focus on Superimagemarket, now we accept images at least 10MB, the size is about 2300px*1500px.

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