----TAKEN FROM PHOTOGRAPHERSDIRECT.COM-------------------------------------
Why will Photographers Direct not represent photographers who have images on micropayment sites?
Because they are the antithesis of Fair Trade Photography. Micropayment sites (which sell Royalty Free images for 1 to 3 dollars) take advantage of the naivety of amateur photographers.
The only people who benefit from these sites are:
The site owners, because they make money from the images and do not care about the damage they are doing to professional photographers' livelihoods.
The buyers, who cannot believe their luck at being able to get images for a few dollars, and being able to use them as often as they like, for as long as they like, wherever they like.
The people who lose out every time are the photographers. Almost every photographer I have spoken to on this issue has expressed regret at placing their images on micropayment sites. Initially they are excited at people taking an interest in their images and paying for them. Of course they like the fact they are making an income from their images, but here are the facts:
The average fee for an image licensed through Photographers Direct is about 200 dollars, of which the photographer will receive 160 dollars. This is usually for a single usage license, NOT a Royalty Free license. The same image can be licensed again and again for similar fees.
To make the same amount through a micropayment site you will have to sell anywhere between 200 and 800 images. These images can be used anywhere at any time and cannot realistically be traced. You are not 'selling' your images, you are not 'having success'; you are giving away your images, and the buyers cannot believe their luck.
Imagine the day when you see one of your images on a book or magazine cover. You will probably be very happy and proud, until you realise you earned one dollar from an image that is helping to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in publishing sales. Is this fair?
A lot of people will respond that this will not happen, that images off micropayment sites are only used by designers for layouts and by 'mom and pop' businesses who would never pay more for images. This is simply not true - a quote:
"SAA executive director Betsy Reid pointed out a discussion board on iStockPhoto where members were congratulating photographer Lise Gagne, who wrote that she had just seen one of her stock images on IBM's web site.
'Once you're done celebrating, is anyone going to stop and think that you got 20 cents for that image?' Reid asks."
Quote from Photo District News.
Can IBM afford to pay market rates for images? Of course! Would they pay 500 dollars for this same image if that was the price? The odds are they would. So why did they pay 1 dollar? Because that was the price it was offered for. The photographer has thrown away 499 dollars.
Surely photographers should have the right to market their images where they like?
Of course, but we also have the right to make conditions on who we will and will not represent, and we have a duty to protect the livelihoods of all our photographers who agree that micropayment sites are just downright bad. Here is an example from a micropayment newsgroup of the perils of playing 'boths sides of the fence':
"I signed up to Photographers Direct and was right on the point of selling 6 of my images at $120 each. I then received an email from the guy politely saying that he had found my images on Shutterstock and would I mind if he used them instead before he downloaded them. I politely declined and removed all of them [from Shutterstock] before he could use any, I was fuming at my own stupidity."
In this case the photographer was lucky that the buyer was honest enough to tell him he had found the same images on a micropayment site. The buyer could have just cancelled the sale through Photographers Direct and downloaded the same images from Shutterstock. Rather than (80% of) $720 (which the buyer was clearly happy to pay!) the photographer would then have earned 1 dollar and 50 cents for the use of his images.
Another peril of microstock is that you ruin the future sales value of your images. Because there will be dozens, if not hundreds of copies of your images floating around, you will be unable to realistically sell them in future. If any agency knows you have sold them through a micropayment site the chances are they will not want to touch them. How can they license an image at a normal fee if there are hundreds of copies floating around which were bought for a dollar?
You also will not be able to sell the images as Rights Managed. Imagine if a corporation approached you and wanted to use your image for an advertising campaign. They ask you where the image has been used before because, of course, they do not want to use an image that has been used by a competitor. What do you tell them? All you can tell them is that you have no idea where it has been used before.
Further damage is caused because any buyer who uses a micropayment site will begin to see it as the norm. Whenever they get a normal quote from a photographer for an image, their response will be 'but I can get images at microwhateverstockphoto for 1 dollar!' Where does this leave the photographer?
For these reasons Photographers Direct cannot represent photographers who have any images on micropayment sites. This is part of our Fair Trade policy.
"Micropayment sites sell your work for peanuts and give you the shells"
Quote from World of Stock.
Examples of micropayment sites are: istockphoto, canstockphoto, shutterstock, dreamstime, bigstockphoto, crestock.