6 Industry Groups Ask Getty to Rethink $49 Web Fee

Posted on 9/11/2007 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Few corporate moves have met with as much criticism and outright opposition as Getty Images' recent announcement of price changes for online image licensing.

First, the blogosphere was abuzz with criticism from professional photographers from both in and outside the Getty camp. Even those not directly affected by the price reduction are concerned about its potential impact. Then, premium U.K.-based royalty-free brand Image Source rebelled, refusing to allow Getty to market its images under the $49 Web-use license. Now, six industry groups - which represent over 12,000 professional photographers in the U.S.A. and the U.K., including many Getty Images' contributors - have written an open letter to Getty Images, asking it to cease licensing rights-managed imagery for the reduced price.

The groups point out that the new license represents a 96% reduction in the pricing for online use of premium rights-managed stock. As marketing spending increasingly shifts from print to digital media, the Stock Artists Alliance, the American Society of Media Photographers, the U.K. Association of Photographers, Advertising Photographers of America, Editorial Photographers and the Canadian Association of Photographers contend that such heavy discounts risks future revenue from major digital uses.

The letter, addressed to Getty Images CEO Jonathan Klein, characterizes the market leader's move as an "extreme competitive response" that poses risks to the entire image-licensing business and threatens the livelihoods of both Getty-represented and other professional stock shooters. The organizations recognize that this pricing strategy may increase sales volume for Getty; however, it also stands to devalue digital usage in the long-term, for both stock and commissioned images.

More specifically, the SAA, ASMP, AOP, APA, EP and CAPIC list five negative outcomes anticipated as a result of Getty's $49 Web-use license. These include loss of digital-licensing revenue, devaluation of rights-managed stock, erosion of image prices across the board, reduced photographer returns and reduced recover values for infringing images.

The groups pay particular attention to loss of current and potential revenues from online advertising. Roy Hsu, SAA president and an ad art director, says that digital advertising will become the key source of high-end advertising within a few years. Consequently, online media budgets are already comparable to and often larger than print and broadcast. "[Getty's $49] pricing scheme oversimplifies a complex industry by mixing the high and low-end users together. Discounting these digital uses is, in effect, giving up on the high-end customer," he adds.

The letter recognizes that industry changes require a corresponding evolution of stock licenses and pricing models. The six advocacy groups suggest working together with Getty Images and others to formulate strategies that benefit all parties - from new customers to image producers and stock agencies.

Getty Images, which referred to its new Web-use license as a "revolutionary new online image product," could not be reached for comment.

Copyright © 2007 Julia Dudnik Stern. 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


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