Getty Images is dumping rights-managed “creative” image licenses to go exclusively royalty-free

Nov 8, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Getty Images is dumping rights-managed “creative” image licenses to go exclusively royalty-free

Nov 8, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Getty Images has announced that after poring over sales data and customer research, they’re ditching the rights-managed licensing options and going over to royalty-free for their “creative” images. Announced over email, the news makes sense from a business standpoint. This will make it a better deal for customers and make Getty more money. But, it’s not necessarily such a great deal for photographers.

The move comes as Getty’s attempt to “simplify” their product offering for customers. They say that royalty-free is now the preferred and dominant licensing model being purchased due to “the simplicity, value and quality available”. With so much royalty-free competition out there, it’s logical that many customers want to go this route and avoid the hassle of complicated rights-managed licenses.

Left: Rights-managed pricing / Right: Royalty-free pricing.

You can see from the screenshot above that the restructuring to royalty-free offers some pretty huge savings benefits for customers over the rights-managed options. However, it also potentially presents a massive drop in income for those photographers contributing content to Getty’s collection.

Getty plans to phase out rights-managed licensing and move to an RF-only creative images offering “during 2020”. They haven’t given an exact date for this, but contributors can now no longer submit new rights-managed creative images to Getty, as of November 6th. By the end of January 2020, they say they all rights-managed images “will be removed from single image licensing (sometimes called à la carte) on GettyImages.com”.

Once the transition from rights-managed to royalty-free is completed, you will be able to distribute your RM images as you wish, says Getty, as long as it doesn’t conflict with any active, unexpired or exclusive licenses. So, if you sold a five-year exclusive RM image license to a customer last year, for example, you can’t put that image up as RF until that license expires.

Of course, the counter-argument to those complaining about reduced income is to just shoot more, shoot better, sell more images. Or that the simple act of going to a reduced cost and simpler license will result in more sales. But whether that becomes the reality or not is another matter entirely.

You can read Getty’s statement in full, here.

[via DPReview]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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6 responses to “Getty Images is dumping rights-managed “creative” image licenses to go exclusively royalty-free”

  1. Alexandru Busuioceanu Avatar
    Alexandru Busuioceanu

    rights managed was good for clients too, if they wanted exclusivity on a image for a perioud of time

    1. John Aldred Avatar
      John Aldred

      Indeed. I’m sure many people remember the year that both Dell and Gateway sent the same young lady “Back to school”. ;)

  2. Kevin Johnson Avatar
    Kevin Johnson

    Getty has been screwing photographers for years

  3. W Douglas LeBlanc Avatar
    W Douglas LeBlanc

    Don’t need Getty. Can do my own stock sales. Full control, mine. ???

  4. Kryn Sporry Avatar
    Kryn Sporry

    Bad for those that pay Getty to have their stuff posted. Good for those using royalty free images to create their own work.

    All in all, Getty will be losing customers and this material to provide royalty free.
    And that means there’s an opportunity to start a decent stock image provider again

  5. Highland Films Avatar
    Highland Films

    It is time freelance photographers who are professionals and make a living out of it point out to the publishing industry that these license models are not sustainable and point out the cost of shooting stock images. I’m removing my work from microstock outfits and everyone should give them the cold should and shun RF licenses and put all the stuff out as Rights Managed. Sure there is a lot of people who enter the industry on a daily basis, but there are many who are leaving it. I’ve been shooting stock for years and the money is appalling. I have certain health issues which mean I have to keep working in it, though I box very clever these days with time and resources. Images should be able to earn good sums, as the cash goes on equipment, travel expenses and all sorts of other expenses, I tried Microstock and work mainly in real life/documentary/reportage/news/travel stock and it simply does not work. Royalty Free has been the main problem, also greedy, uncultured stupid MBA types who look at image collections as a business of displacing data. I have had dozens of images used in textbooks to educate children. The stock photography I produce is a very useful resource for the whole world (as are most photo archives) and that will be the case long after I am not here. To treat it as a cut-throat business like any other is simply savage.