In response to Getty Images’ decision last month to open up vast chunks of their image collection for free editorial use, and Reuters doing something similar with their collection of photojournalist images, a new website has launched that hands control back to the photographer. The founder, and man behind eCommerce business Fine Art America, Sean Broihier made a bold declaration to Upstart criticizing the current system that gives photographers little control, leaving them open to exploitation by the established image licensing firms.
“I always wanted to be in the licensing business,”he says. “If you’re an artist or photographer, you should be able to dictate the price for your images and what’s happened with existing sites is that it’s a race to the bottom.”
Answering a common complaint from photographers who are faced with both rampant unlicensed digital or even commercial copyright infringement of their work, and an inability to determine the price they receive when their image is bought, Pixels.com is set to offer tough competition to the old guard in image licensing by giving photographers control over how much they want to receive for a given image. When Getty decided to open up their catalog last month it was an acknowledgement that many images are already being pilfered for use in online editorials. Seeking to regain an element of control the changes Getty made offered a framework to try and regulate or legitimize certain copyright infringements.
While reacting to the online demands the move ignored the needs of photographers who on average in the US earned just short of $29,000 according to the latest labor statistics. With Pixels.com the service puts their artists first, not by imposing a royalty % as Getty does but by allowing the image’s owner to select what they would like to be paid for an image and for what they are happy for their work to be used in, or licensed to. Pixels takes its cut by adding on 30% to the final fee charged to the image purchaser. The bonus of this new model is that the photographer gets all of what they expect from the transaction and only sells their work at a price they can be happy with. The big benefit for photogs is in the photographer dictating the price and not being dictated to. By giving more autonomy and freedom to photographers Broihier is hopeful that Pixels.com will trigger a much needed changes to the way content is licensed online.
What do you think? What is your experience with working with Getty Images? Would you use a service like Pixels.com?