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What We Learned This Week: Getty Images Goes All-In With Royalty Free Stock

By David Schonauer   Friday November 15, 2019


“Over the years, customers’ needs have changed.”

That's how Getty Images recently explained its reasons for making a momentous business decision: As we noted this week, the company will be phasing out its rights-managed image licensing business and focusing instead on its royalty-free image licensing business. The change will take place in early 2020.

Getty’s Editorial images—a division that encompasses its news, sports and event coverage—will still be licensed on a rights-managed model. But, noted PDN, the stock agency giant’s abandonment of rights-managed commercial stock acknowledges that most of the stock business has shifted to royalty-free transactions.

From a business perspective the move makes sense, admitted PetaPixel: Getty says that it’s seen a “steady […] year-over-year decline in Creative RM à la carte licenses over the last five years, with declines accelerating over time.”

“While the company doesn’t share any data to back up this claim, we believe it, as almost all of the newer paid and free stock photography platforms on the market have embraced the one-size-fits-all Royalty Free licensing model,” noted PP.

However, declared the website, the change “sucks for photographers.”

PDN explained why: “Getty Images has previously offered its contributing photographers a more generous split of licensing fees on RM images than on RF images. Getty offers contributing photographers 30 to 40 percent compensation on RM images, versus only 20 percent of fees paid for RF images. The Getty subsidiary iStock, the RF agency Getty purchased in 2006, offers its contributors 15 percent for non-exclusive licenses, and 25-45 percent of exclusive licenses or buyouts. Getty and iStock claim to have more than 1.5 million customers worldwide.”

As of Nov. 6, photographer contributors could not submit new rights-managed creative images to Getty, noted DP Review. By the end of January 2020, stated the company in its announcement, all rights-managed images will be removed from single image licensing (sometimes called à la carte) on GettyImages.com.”

After being removed from the single image licensing option, photographers “will be able to distribute [their] RM images as [they] wish, with the exception that [they] must not license any rights-managed images (or similar) in a way that conflicts with any active, unexpired exclusive licenses,” noted the company.

Here are some of the other photo stories we spotlighted this week:
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1. The Aftermath of the Cartel Ambush in Mexico

Three mothers and six children — all U.S. citizens — were killed in northern Mexico on Nov. 4 when their vehicles were ambushed in the close-knit Mormon offshoot community of La Mora. Mexican officials have said a drug cartel was behind the brutal attack. Mexican photographer César Rodríguez, on assignment for Spanish newspaper El País, arrived at La Mora the  the next day. He offered his account at Time: “I Tried to Take Photos That Meant Something,” he noted.


2. Architectural Photography Awards Shortlist

Among the images shortlisted for the 2019 Architectural Photography Awards are Chinese photographer Su Zhewei’ s photo of the China Resources Headquarters in Shenzhen (above). Other nominees include Marco Tagliarino's photo of the late architect Zaha Hadid's twisting Generali Tower in Milan, Italy, and Marco de Groot’s aerial photograph of the Camp Adventure Observation Tower in Denmark, all featured at CNN. The shortlist showcases the best of 2,000 entries received from more than 40 countries.


3. Pat Martin Wins the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize

Los Angeles-based photographer Pat Martin has won this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize for two photographs from his series about his late mother, “Goldie (Mother).”   Martin used portraiture to reconnect with his mother, who struggled with addiction throughout her life. “For most of my life, I misunderstood my mother and witnessed how the world misunderstood her,” he told the British Journal of Photography. Martin wins £15,000, and his images will be on display at London’s National Portrait Gallery through February 16, 2020.


4. The County Fair As Cosmic (and Fraught) Experience

Over the past summer, California-based photographer Arthur Drooker went to a number of county fairs in Northern California to shoot nighttime images of carnival rides. At first he was simply experimenting with his iPhone's long-exposure mode. Later he switched to a DSLR. The results, in both cases, are kaleidoscopic images of people enjoying wholesome cheap thrills. "There's a whiff of Norman Rockwell to country fairs," Drooker told us. But, we noted, he found that nowadays, carrying a camera in public can lead to trouble.


5. Robert Freeman, Beatles Photographer, Dies at 82

Photographer Robert Freeman, who shot some of the best-known images of the Beatles, has died at age 82, noted CNN. (He died either Nov. 7 or Nov. 8, added The Washington Post; his death was announced on the Beatles’ official website.) From 1963 to 1965, Freeman worked extensively with the Beatles, shooting the covers for the British releases of “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Beatles for Sale,” “Help!” and “Rubber Soul." The corresponding U.S. albums sometimes had different cover art. The NY Times had more.
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At top: Robert Freeman’s photo for the cover of the album “With the Beatles”

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