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Sale of an image at alamy - I need your advice.

Consulo 13 840 10 Scotland
1 Dec 2011 12:09PM
Hello all,

I've just had, what seems to me, a bit of a problem regarding an image sale that I've made through Alamy, and I'd like to get the opinions of people on this site as to what I should do next/where I stand.

The image in question is one that I've sold a number of times through alamy (in case you're interested it's this one ). The image is on sale under a rights managed license, and this particular sale of the image was for $180. No probs, thought I, until I had a look at the details of the sale under which the image was bought. They are as follows:

Country: Worldwide
Usage: Editorial
Media: Textbook - print and e-book
Print run: Unlimited
Placement: Inside
Image Size: 2 page spread
Start: 14 October 2011
End: 14 October 2036

The image has been purchased for an unlimited print run for a period of 25 years, for editorial usage as a two page spread. It suddenly dawned on me that whoever bought this is getting one hell of a bargain, so I went on to the page of the image in question and, using the same criteria, used the price calculator to work out what the image would cost.

It came out as over 1000.

Baffled and bewildered, I wrote to alamy yesterday evening challenging this sale, and I received the following reply:

We do have agreed usages/rates with some key customers and will negotiate on sales if necessary. When we raise an invoice in these circumstances, due to the nature of the bulk image purchase and/or specific contracts often the highest print run and the largest page size are selected.

Your image ABKB9R was sold to the customer as per the price agreement we have with the client and we charge a flat rate for the images used by the client.

Now maybe I'm being very naive, but I don't remember reading anything about negotiating the price of an image in the contract when I signed up. It seems to me that this is wholly unfair on the photographer. I submitted the image as rights managed, not royalty free, as I expect the be paid a good sum of money dependent upon usage. The reply I got above seems to make a mockery of the whole system, and I'm genuinely staggered that such negotiations are allowed to take place. I acknowledge that they say that in such cases, the largest image size and print run are selected, but this still seems odd to me.

So, I'm wondering what I should do? Does anybody think that i have good grounds to challenge this, or am I indeed being fleeced out of a huge amount of money? I can imagine that somehow, alamy have done a lot better out of this sale than I have, and I'm seriously considering never submitting a thing to them again.

Thanks for reading and I'm looking forward to reading the replies.


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Andy_Cundell 6 1.1k 5 England
1 Dec 2011 12:19PM
Any chance of finding out the buyer and seeing how much they paid for it?
Consulo 13 840 10 Scotland
1 Dec 2011 12:23PM
As I understand it, the answer is no. I've enquired before about that and had buyer confidentiality quoted at me, but maybe someone else knows differently ?
GlennH 12 1.9k 1 France
1 Dec 2011 12:34PM
The Alamy calculator is largely irrelevant nowadays - happens to most Alamy contributors on a large proportion of their sales.
Andy_Cundell 6 1.1k 5 England
1 Dec 2011 12:36PM
Had a quick look at their terms etc and I think you may be onto a no-winner here. They state Here under 1.2.3 in Key Terms that they set and agree terms and prices.

If I were you, I would contact BAPLA, British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies, as they are members of it and see what they say. You may be able to use them as an ombudsman of some sort.

cameracat 13 8.6k 61 Norfolk Island
1 Dec 2011 4:39PM
In this day and age Alamy has to deal however they see the market, The market has been flooding for many years to such an extent that the " Buyer Calls The Tune " .......!!!

So bottom line is a sale is a sale, No matter what, Gone are the days of huge payouts......Sad

Alamy is only working the market as the market forces dictate....!!!
peterjones 15 4.6k 1 United Kingdom
1 Dec 2011 5:00PM
1.2 Under this contract Alamy is authorised:

1.2.1 to add the Images to one or more of its databases;
1.2.2 to license the Images to Customers on the basis of a Royalty Free Licence or Rights Managed Licence. If you sign up to the Novel Use Scheme Alamy will also be authorised to license the Images to Customers on the basis of Novel Use Licences;
1.2.3 to set and agree prices in its absolute discretion;
Consulo 13 840 10 Scotland
1 Dec 2011 10:07PM
Thanks to everyone who's contributed to this thread.

It seems that I've no recourse when it comes to this matter and that, for better or worse, I'll have to lump it. I'm very disappointed though - if the image has indeed been sold for that length of time, and considering it's RM and not RF, that amount I got paid seems pitifully low.

Out of interest, is this kind of thing standard across the board now at the larger agencies (I don't submit to microstock)?
User_Removed 7 4.6k 1 Scotland
1 Dec 2011 10:24PM
When you placed it on Alamy in a "Rights Managed" category, you ceded to Alamy exactly that - the right to manage the rights.

They will do that in the way that brings them (and you) the highest reward they think they can negotiate.

The corollary is that if they price it too high, they won't sell at all.

Just as a wee bit of consolation - I have an acquaintance who is on the editorial staff of a magazine that I used to write a regular monthly column for and supply photographs for my own column. At that time (1970-95) I was getting between 25 and 75 per photograph depending upon the size it was reproduced at. That guy now gets virtually all of his photographs from a variety of agencies and tells me that he now never pays more than 5. The point (in his favour but not the photographer's) is that there are so many millions of photographs available. He does still commission occasional photographs when he needs a certain action in a specified location at a particular time of year.... but they are far fewer than in the past.
mikehit 8 8.0k 13 United Kingdom
3 Dec 2011 2:58PM
I wonder how much Alamy charged the publisher while not increasing Consulo's payment?
matmonty 12 136 United Kingdom
3 Dec 2011 6:45PM
Happens to me all the time now, prices have fallen through the roof at Alamy. They are after all having to compete with the likes of Corbis and Getty. By the way I have also seen complaints about sale prices at Getty and that a few months ago contributors were leaving in droves.
I think its a case of accepting the prices or get out of stock all together.

loweskid 16 2.0k 1 United Kingdom
3 Dec 2011 8:22PM

Quote:I wonder how much Alamy charged the publisher while not increasing Consulo's payment?

Alamy will have charged the publisher exactly what was reported - $180. Consulo will get 60% of that.

The reported use might not be the actual use. If it's a bulk purchase of maybe dozens of photographs then it might be a 'catch all' to cover them all.

As to the low prices - that's just the way it is now when everyone and his/her dog has got a digital camera. If you don't like it then you have to either not submit to agencies or do what I do - just ignore it, get on with taking more pictures, upload 'em to alamy and hopefully sell more.
Bobytalk 3 1
8 Jan 2014 2:35PM
Hi Consulo,

You are not the only one to whom it happens. It seems that most contributors are experiencing the same. The problem is that we can't know if Alamy is playing fair when they pretend to have sold a picture at half (or less) the price displayed on their website, because you generally don't have access to the customer and they won't give you this information of course.

So maybe they gave a big discount or maybe they just screw contributors. Who knows ? In any case, in other industries, prices displayed on a website have a legal value and should reflect the reality, for the buyer and the seller. In case of discrepancy you would have the right to sue the website transgressing its own price policy. But does it apply there ? May it just need to be put as a first law case in front of a court to create a precedence ?

Anyway, if they are not able to respect their own displayed prices, they should just remove them. They also should be more transparent to their contributors about their selling and pricing practices. It just show how much they care about the contributors somehow.

We can of course find them all the excuse in the world, poor them they have to compete with competitors, the prices are going down, but they are a profit oriented business and it seems that they make enough money t feed some causes by decreasing the contributors benefits..

Of course, this is not only alamy who exploit photographers, getty and corbis do the same, even worse in the case of the latter as getty demands exclusivity (what a joke) and corbis asks you to pay a fee if you remove image form their website ) this company belonging to bill gates it's not a surprise, hopefully corbis website is not running on windows 8).

The only way to make sure you are fairly paid is to set up your own prices and get out of the claws of profiteers who take, take, take without giving much or anything in return.
loweskid 16 2.0k 1 United Kingdom
8 Jan 2014 3:41PM
Bobytalk - you do know that this thread is over two years old? ..... Wink
Trevhas Plus
5 1.1k 3 United Kingdom
8 Jan 2014 6:37PM
Thanks for pointing that out Loweskid it was a pretty depressing read, let's hope the price paid for stock photos has risen but somehow I believe it may have got worse. Sad

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