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Stock Imagery Takes a Turn

(January 2007) posted on Tue Jan 02, 2007

Micropayment sites surge, while RM images look to come back.

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By Theano Nikitas

Take Digital Light Source (, for example, a new totally rights-managed site-the site offers no RF images. Photographer Jacob Hutchings, founder and general manager of the company, believes that rights managed is making a comeback. He sees a need for researchers to access fresh imagery, which he is providing from photographers based in the US and Europe. Hutchings believes that an agency like his can meet the needs of clients who want the ease of the Internet with the safety guaranteed by rights-managed licensing; he also feels that a smaller company can provide more personalized service than the larger RM companies.

As indicated earlier, the complexity of rights-managed licensing has nearly always been a thorn in the side of customers as well as agencies. Some companies are striving to address this issue. Getty Images, for instance, has recently launched a new licensing model called "rights-ready." This model combines the ease of licensing of RF with some of the benefits of rights managed. For example, a rights-ready image can be purchased for a flat rate online and can be used by the end client for 10 years. While licensing a rights-ready image doesn’t require territory or industry information, customers do have to specify a category or categories in which the image(s) will be used. Although rights-ready pricing is closer to rights-managed single-use license pricing, according to Getty Images’ Gubas, "the added value is delivered in terms of usage and duration."

The most promising solution to rights-managed image licensing, however, might be the PLUS Coalition’s move toward providing universal codification of licensing and rights. Jeff Sedlik, president and CEO of the PLUS Coalition (, says that the nonprofit organization’s mission is to "simplify and facilitate image licensing" for stock licensing as well as assignment work. He makes it clear that this is not solely a stock initiative, but something that would apply to a broad variety of transactions, including photography and illustration.