Monday, September 24, 2007
Photographer Groups Call on Getty Images to Remove Rights Managed Collections from $49 Web License
Heavy discounting of premium stock imagery risks future revenue potential from major digital uses, as budgets shift from print to online.
Last week, Getty Images announced a new $49 “web use” license for images from all of its collections, including its highest quality Rights Managed collections. With this move, Getty has effectively slashed the value of commercial web use licenses by up to 96% off their established rates for Rights Managed photography.
In a coordinated response, leading trade associations representing over 12,000 professional photographers have called upon Getty Images to remove all Rights Managed imagery (including their Rights Ready brands) from this new license product.
The Stock Artists Alliance (SAA), the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), the U.K. Association of Photographers (AOP), Advertising Photographers of America (APA), Editorial Photographers (EP), and the Canadian Association of Photographers (CAPIC) represent top advertising and editorial assignment photographers and thousands of stock photographers— including many Getty contributors.
Their shared concern is that this extreme competitive response by Getty Images presents huge risks to the image licensing business, and threatens the livelihoods not only of Getty contributors but of professional photographers industry-wide.
In a joint letter sent to Getty Images CEO Jonathan Klein today, the associations have urged the company to reconsider this plan and remove the Rights Managed collections from the $49 license scheme. “Offering your very best imagery at heavily discounted prices," they contend, “may well increase volume, but it also risks undermining Getty's core licensing business—as well as the businesses of the independent contributing photographers who create and own the majority of imagery in your RM collections.”
Furthermore, the letter states, “As the market leader, Getty's actions affect the entire industry. We therefore expect that your action of devaluing digital usage risks the long-term earning potential from image licensing, whether it be stock or commissioned."
Anticipated consequences of this dramatic move, they suggest, include:
1. Loss of high-value digital license revenue.
Getty is unnecessarily giving up money from commercial and high-end advertising customers willing to pay premium prices for the most exclusive imagery. Now these same customers are rapidly shifting their large media budgets from print to the web as the internet emerges as their primary marketing platform. Spending for web advertising by these customers can easily rival traditional media budgets with many spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on relatively small media buys. This $49 deal gives away valuable rights for minimal prices that will not be replaced by increased volume for this kind of commercial usage.
2. Devaluation of RM licensing.
Flat-rate license fees run counter to the Rights Managed premise that price and value are commensurate with usage. The $49 deal lumps together buyers for global online ad campaigns with small mom-and-pop shops and local web uses. Flat-rate unit pricing is already being offered in Royalty Free products, and this new product will offer value-conscious customers access to quality RF imagery. There's no need to extend it in RM. Offering the very best images at a bargain price point communicates to customers that all images, even the very best and most creative, are all worth the same.
3. Erosion of prices across the board.
The devaluation of web usage prices will lead to devaluing print and outdoor usage that will pave the way to further steep price cuts across all types of licenses. Once customers can obtain a major use license of an RM image at this cost, they will likely question the validity of being charged significantly higher rates for other uses.