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An open letter to Getty Images


An open letter to Getty Images

This is the open letter (ASMP website) sent by AOP, APA, ASMP, CAPIC, EP and SAA to Jonathan Klein.

This letter was sent on September 10. It is one part of an industry response to Getty´s repricing of image licenses for online uses.

Jonathan Klein, CEO,
Getty Images

Dear Mr. Klein,

We, the leadership of SAA, ASMP, AOP, APA, EP and CAPIC, are calling upon Getty Images to remove all Rights Managed images (including Rights Ready brands) from your new discount pricing scheme which reduces the value of this imagery to $49 for web and digital usage.

Collectively, our trade associations represent the interests of over 12,000 professional photographers, including top advertising and editorial assignment photographers and thousands of stock photographers, many of whom are Getty contributors.

Our shared concern is that this move by Getty Images presents huge risks to Getty?s Rights Managed licensing business, which threatens the livelihoods of your independent contributors as well as professional photographers industry-wide.

While this marketing strategy of offering your very best imagery at heavily discounted prices may well increase volume, it also risks undermining Getty?s core Rights Managed licensing business ? as well as the businesses of the independent contributing photographers who create and own the majority of imagery in your RM collections.

As the market leader, Getty?s actions affect the entire industry. We therefore expect that Getty?s devaluation of digital usage will risk the long-term earning potential from image licensing, whether it be stock or commissioned.

Specifically, we anticipate the following likely consequences:

  1. Loss of high value digital license revenue.
    Getty is unnecessarily giving up money from commercial and high-end advertising customers willing to pay premium prices for the most exclusive imagery. Now these same customers are rapidly shifting their large media budgets from print to the web as the internet emerges as their primary marketing platform. Spending for promotional websites and web advertising by these customers can easily rival traditional media budgets. This $49 deal gives away valuable rights for minimal prices that will not be replaced by increased volume for this kind of high-level usage.

  2. Devaluation of RM licensing.
    Flat-rate license fees run counter to the Rights Managed premise that price and value are commensurate with usage. The $49 deal lumps together buyers for global online ad campaigns with small mom-and-pop shops and local web uses. This flat-rate unit pricing is already being offered in Royalty Free products and this new price point will offer value-conscious customers access to quality RF imagery. There?s no need to extend it in RM. Offering the very best images at a bargain price point communicates to customers that all images, even the very best and most creative, are all worth the same.

  3. Erosion of prices across the board.
    The devaluation of web usage prices will lead to devaluing print and outdoor usage that will pave the way to further steep price cuts across all types of licenses. Once customers can obtain a major use license of an RM image at this cost, they will likely question the validity of being charged significantly higher rates for other uses.

  4. Reduced return for photographers.
    Lower per-image returns for photographers make it more difficult to produce the highly creative images that form the core of creative RM stock collections. These images cannot be produced in volume and photographers are already feeling the impact of reduced revenues. This move further strains the viability of independent photographers? businesses and will result in less fresh imagery available for customers.

  5. Reduced recovery value for images.
    The offering by the world?s largest stock image supplier of all their images across the board at a $49 price point will have a serious impact on the valuation of claims in the courts for copyright infringement and lost/damaged originals. It also undermines the proposition that each image is unique and has to be valued on its own merits. Infringements of stock images are already at crisis levels ? especially for web and digital uses. We are alarmed that a consequence of the low value established for web uses will dampen efforts to enforce copyrights and recover otherwise lost revenues.

Mr. Klein, we respectfully urge you to reverse this decision now, before it is well established and the impact is fully realized. We are eager to work with you and other leaders in the industry to find mutually beneficial ways to evolve image licensing that address the changing needs of new media customers and which leverage the distinctive value associated with Rights Managed imagery in a changing marketplace.

We have a mutual interest in growing our image licensing businesses but respectfully contend that we explore better ways to do so, which do not risk the value of what we have created.


On behalf of our Boards of Directors,

Roy Hsu, President
Stock Artists Alliance (SAA)

Judy Hermann, President
American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP)

Michael Harding, President
Association of Photographers (AOP)

Don Dormeyer, President
Advertising Photographers of America (APA)

Brian Smith, President Editorial Photographers (EP)

Michael Kohn, President
Canadian Association of Photographers (CAPIC)

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