Getty Images to End Sales of Rights Managed Photography in 2020

I use to "half-joke" about destroying all my original transparencies and digital files at some point before I'm gone so they don't end up in a large online library somewhere, selling for pennies.

Unfortunately, this is the direction the stock photography business is going. Getty, the world's largest supplier of stock photography will go completely "royalty free" in 2020. I believe the conversion of moving footage to royalty free is not far away.

The new frontier will be going after copyright abusers, especially if the CASE Act is passed by Congress. This could generate big money depending on how statute of limitations (of claims) are handled.
 
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Dan Robinson

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Here is their press release on it:


Market saturation means royalty free is probably the only viable option for common subject matters.

If however you have any truly unique or exclusive images, those can still command rights managed rates. Sales are going to be more infrequent, but will usually net more than dozens of cheap RF licenses.

The problem is the concept of brokerages or agencies. Even the smaller stock licensing brokers were nonviable as early as 10 years ago because they wanted to do discounted bulk deals that were great for the agency and the customer, but really stuck it to the photographer.

Honestly I think that the big agencies should fade into the sunset. Good photographers should stop using them. They offer nothing of value to any serious photographer, they've chosen to tip everything in the balance to what benefits the agency and their customers. You have to keep customers happy to stay in business, but photographers need to be happy too.
 
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Stock (still) photography is pretty much dead. I will certainly not be forwarding any additional images to Getty, to have them sell for pennies. Fortunately, I never sent them the cream of the crop because I always feared this might happen. The only good an agent will do is if you happen to capture the one in a million news image that's worth millions, e.g., the Hindenburg.
 
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Dan Robinson

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I still make stock image sales every now and then direct through my web site, but it's negligible income. Those occasional sales though are much more than I'd have made through agencies like Getty even after hundreds of their "penny" sales.

At this point, for most photographers it's probably good to just stay independent and offer to license things yourself. Best case scenario, some big corporation might want to do a huge marketing campaign and not use some played out stock image that has been licensed and published hundreds of times by other companies. Then they'll look for something unique and exclusive. If you just get one of those deals in your career, you'll come out far ahead of the person that has sold thousands of microstock or Getty RF licenses over a decade. If you list that photo on Getty or some royalty free stock agency site, you pretty much take yourself out of the running of that ever happening to you.