Getty Images Pounds it’s 800 Pound Gorilla Chest with New, Bad for Photographers Contract

It seems we photographers are spending a great deal of time these days going over updates of contracts and Terms of Service agreements with our clients, social media sites and stock agencies that sell our work.

This time it’s Getty Images that has the collective photography industry furrowing their brows. Getty has amended their contributors contract agreement to say that any Rights Managed photos that have not sold in three years will be automatically moved into their Royalty Free and Royalty Free subscription catalog.

In simple terms this means that even though a photographer may have listed a photograph as to be sold under a Rights Managed agreement (Price depends on what the image will be used for and for how long), it can now be moved into the much less lucrative Royalty Free category, which means a photograph is sold for a much lower set price without any regard for what it will be used for.

Photographers have little choice but to grimace and sign the new agreement or take their stock photography business elsewhere. It’s a difficult decision. Getty Images is like the Kleenex of stock. It’s name is synonymous with stock and art buyers usually head their first when looking for images. It’s the 800 pound gorilla. It does whatever it wants.

However, at some point it becomes chasing ever diminishing returns for photographers who have been looking to stock to keep their businesses alive with the recent shrinking budgets in photography assignment work.

Photographers are getting the squeeze from every side it seems.

So what to do?

Both the ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers) and the APA (American Photographic Artists) are saying it may be time to bail out of Getty. It’s certainly not going to get any better in the foreseeable future with them.

And there are other options. Smaller, more photographer friendly stock sites have been springing up in the past few years. PhotoDeck, PhotoShelter, LicenseStream and IPN are sites that may not have the reach… yet… of the Getty Gorilla, however as more photographers begin to form relationships with these other sites, it will affect Getty’s inventory and art buyers may have to be gently pushed to search on these alternatives sites for the best images.

I currently have begun to use PhotoDeck as my stock licensing site as the Billy Sheahan Photography Archive. We’re still in the process of populating the site with what will eventually be hundreds of photos available for licensing. We’re in the process of re-editing almost 100,000 images to select the very best and then keywording them all to make them searchable. My studio assistant Jamie has been slaving over them for the past three months.

We’ll make an official announcement this summer when the Archive site is fully populated with lovely images from almost 20 years of my photography! but in the meantime, you can get a taste at the link above.

See, there are other ways to avoid dancing with the 800 pound gorilla!

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