The Association of Photographers (AOP) have joined forces with an international coalition of photographic trade associations, led by the Stock Artists Alliance (SAA), to protest at Getty Images plan to launch a $49 web use (500px wide, 72dpi) across all licensing models (RM, RR, RF).
It’s widely recognized that Getty Images are seen within the industry as being the leading supplier of stock images. We expect other image suppliers will quickly follow suit and are deeply concerned about the impact this model will have on those AOP Members who rely on stock.
The launch of such a model means that photographers who currently have work with Getty will see a cut of around 95% on a like for like basis. It is the opinion of the AOP that such cuts do not represent a viable or sustainable business model for our Members.
One Member shared their recent sales figures with us: “I had three web sales on Getty’s Stone brand last month, grossing $3361.00. Better than $147!” Do the sums – it seems that this member would have to sell these images around 23 times just to break even with this average month of his. The images he sold, by the way, were for use in typical websites, so an unusually large license or two haven’t inflated the figures he’s talking about. He’s not convinced that such a multiple is achievable and we concur.
Furthermore, the AOP sees that this action will, ultimately, have a negative impact upon all rates, stock or assignment, so this issue is of industry-wide significance to all photographers.
Financial analysts in the City agree that the model is flawed and the value of Getty shares (GYI) have continued to move downward, with many re-rating it to their Sell category and expressing concerns that the projected increase in sales volumes won’t be realized and will fail to make up for the dramatic price cut.
AOP Members who contacted us have been vocal about expressing their disagreement with Getty’s move and the long-term effects it will have on their business. Many of them tell us that they no longer want to submit to Getty and several big names are now reconsidering their relationship with Getty.
Here’s a small sampling of what our award winning AOP Members have been telling us.
AOP Awards Gold Winner and IPA Professional Photographer of the Year 2007 George Logan said: “I have been becoming increasingly disenchanted with Getty for some time and this $49 promotion is the final straw. I find it truly insulting that I might receive approx £9.80 per image sold. I do not want to be associated with a company who would sell off my work in such a cheap and crass manner. This is not what I got into photography for and I know I am not alone...every other photographer I have spoken to, including many of their major contributors, feels the same way. I shall no longer submit images to Getty and will withdraw my existing collection at the soonest opportunity.”
Fellow AOP Member and AOP Awards winner Nick Daly said: “I deplore what Getty are doing and have done to their contributing photographers. I deplore also what they have done to their staff, most of whom enjoyed good working relationships with their photographers. I have seen all the friends I have made at Getty over the years leave or be made jobless. I fully support any action direct or indirect, which may provoke a dialogue with Getty or their representative.”
Another world-renowned AOP Member, multiple AOP Awards winner Frank Herholdt told us: “I feel this whole Getty saga is deplorable. Their desperate scramble to placate shareholders is detrimental to the whole industry and this makes me question whether public ownership is the best business model for our industry. My Getty image sales pay my mortgage. Their move will cut heavily into this revenue and as a result, I feel that I'll now have place future images with another stock image provider that has more respect for its photographers.”
Award winning AOP Member Bob Elsdale said: “We are facing a crisis that could have long term repercussions to be felt worldwide throughout the photographic industry. During the 1980’s some of us will remember the AOP facing up to the print unions when they set their sights on placing control over our industry. We now face a situation of possible similar proportions. If the Getty initiative of the $49 web images is placed across all brands to include RM, other stock agencies may decide to follow in order to compete and the whole devaluation process could snowball throughout the stock industry. This will certainly cheapen the work of photographers working on smaller numbers of higher value images. Will clients want to buy exclusive and possibly lucrative print licenses if they have seen the value of an image diluted by $49 dollar web sales?”
“Maybe Getty’s clients, who obviously include advertising agencies and designers, should think about this too. Apart from photographers, art directors and art buyers are involved in creating images too. What am I going to do about it? Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate my loyalties.”
Getty’s proposed change affects premium RM/RR photography in particular and it is here that the AOP’s concern is most acutely focused, for it seriously devalues the high quality and evocative photography that our Members specialize in and which Getty markets for many of them. We join with our partner organizations in calling for Getty to remove RM/RR image collections from this business model.
The AOP was formed in 1968 to promote and protect photographers’ rights and we continue to do so. Today, we are proud to be working in close alliance with our trade association partners, who collectively represent over 40,000 photographers worldwide, to fight against this business model.