Thursday, June 28, 2012

Alamy White Paper on Image Licensing

Alamy, the major international online stock photography agency, have published their "white paper" on possible changes to image licensing issues, following a "round table" discussion (actually, the table was rectangular from what I saw in the photo they published) with "key industry figures" (you work it out - I know I wasn't there).

You can download the white paper by clicking here.

They asked for feedback on their Facebook page and I have offered mine, copied below, for what it's worth to them (probably as much as a "novel use" image fee).

The comments you quoted from Roy Clarke come close to echoing my own long held views. But in addition to "dishonesty" (and I have had over 40 infringements of image use in the last 2 months) I would add the concept of "umbridge", to suggest that some buyers are reluctant to pay above microstock rates for images, as they may believe alternatives can be obtained for free or for less than Alamy rates. 

It may be a problem of ignorance ("why do we have to pay for photographs anyway") and/or a trend towards a devaluing of imagery generally, both by the general public and - sadly - the publishing media. The fact that my own images have appeared unpaid, uncredited and without my permission in printed and digital media published by professional journalists (often members of professional associations) have led me to conclude that photography is sometimes considered to be "cheap" and photographers not even worthy of professional courtesy at times.

What I didn't add, because it may have seemed churlish, is that the stock photography "industry" seems moribund, to my mind, if not dead-in-the-water already. The market is over-crowded, micro-stock agencies sell images by the dozen for a pittance and photography, generally, is losing the status of being a valued commodity - "hey, he published it on the internet, it must be free for everyone to use whenever we like" (everyone in agreement with the previous point please note: "use" is an anagram of "sue"). 

Is this the end of profitable stock photography as we know it? Maybe it depends on what Alamy do next? 

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