VCG Closes 500px Marketplace: Abandons Creative Commons

Posted on 7/2/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

On Saturday Visual China Group (VCG) shut down 500px Marketplace and replaced it with a distribution partnership arrangement. China users will be able to license the images through VCG who acquired 500px earlier this year. Getty Images will handle all licensing in the rest of the world.

The company said that photographer’s royalty rates will stay the same. However, it is unclear whether Getty Images will take a share of the gross licensing fee before submitting the remainder to VCG which would be the way distributor relationships have traditionally worked in the industry. At that point VCG would calculate the contributor’s royalty share based on what it actually received rather than the gross license fee charged the customer by Getty.

If Getty takes a cut in the traditional manner, what percentage of the total sale does it represent? Marketplace photographers may see more sales, but based the the prices Getty has been charging many of its customers, these new sales are likely to be for much lower dollars than photographers received in the past.

The decision to close Marketplace was first announced at the end of May. It has also been reported that VCG purchased 500px for $17 million.

VCG Ends Creative Commons Option

VCG has also discontinued the option for people to upload or download photos to 500px that contain a Creative Commons license. Going forward, none of the photos on 500px can be use without direct permission of the creator unless they included in the Marketplace option now know as 500px Licensing.

Jason Scott who works on the Internet Archive, a repository that catalogs Creative Commons and public-domain images said on Thursday, "It's over 1 million CC-licensed photos. Gone. Tomorrow. No warning." He encouraged “dozens of volunteers” to spend the weekend using the Wayback Machine to back up photos.

500px said Friday that it notified the Creative Commons project of the changes in mid-May. 500px was a major Creative Commons backer, though not as enthusiastic as Flickr, which helped popularize the idea. Other big backers include video sites YouTube and Vimeo.

A 500px spokesperson told The Verge that it decided to stop its Creative Commons program because of lack of activity, but said it may be re-added in the future depending on user response. The decision is a loss for many organizations, including non-profits, that rely on Creative Commons-licensed images for their sites.

Critics of the move include 500px co-founder Evgeny Tchebotarev, who left company in 2016. He said on Twitter that “Creative Commons is critical to the growth and support of the open web,” adding in another tweet that 500px’s “decisions of the last few years perplex me greatly.”

VCG has also promoted its strategy vice president, Aneta Filiciak as chief executive of 500px.

Copyright © 2018 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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