Getty Images has ditched its Rights-Managed image licensing system in favour of a Royalty-Free licence, good news for Getty customers but not so much for contributing photographers.
The Rights-Managed image licensing system was one of the few perks of being a Getty contributor. It provided photographer some degree of control over how much an image could potentially earn them.
Getty’s longstanding Rights-Managed licence set parameters related to geographic or time-based limitations, exclusivity, number of uses and the specifications, and so on. This allowed photographers to earn a larger fee for certain images. For instance, a high-end studio advertising image could be licensed to an agency with exclusive and perpetual licensing rights, would pay out far more than an ordinary stock photo.
The Royalty-Free licence – the microstock industry standard – provides a non-exclusive, unlimited and multiple use grant for an image. In other words, once the customer pays up they can use the image in as many ways as they please. The license is much cheaper because the image is not exclusive, and remains available to other customers.
This arrangement obviously benefits Getty, as they can maximise the number of times an image is licensed, and customers, who will pay less per image.
Getty made the announcement in an e-mail to contributors, informing them that Rights-Managed images will no longer be accepted, and from January 2020 all Rights-Managed images will be removed from the platform. Unless re-submitted under the Royalty Free licence.
‘Over the years, customers’ needs have changed. Complicated licensing models create friction and customers demand simplicity—they want the most simple and most flexible access to relevant, authentic imagery,’ wrote Paul Banwell, senior director of Getty Images Contributor Relations.’
‘Royalty‑free imagery is now the preferred and dominant licensing model for our customers due to the simplicity, value and quality available. Licensing complexity has only led customers to other content, and in many cases, another provider as the broader industry is now essentially an RF‑only model.’
Getty has made this decision after ‘extensive customer research’.
‘We have confidently concluded that the RM creative image licensing model no longer meets our customers’ needs, especially given the flexibility demanded by digital marketing and the increasing reuse of imagery, and it actually reduces our overall competitiveness’.
As observed by other photo media, the e-mail expresses a multitude of benefits to Getty’s future growth and its customers, while failing to highlight anything worthwhile for photographers besides:
‘This will benefit customers and provide an opportunity to grow overall licensing volume and revenue for both Getty Images and our contributors.’