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Getty Images bought by management and Carlyle Group for $3.3bn

By dpreview staff on Aug 15, 2012 at 17:34 GMT

Photo library and licensing giant Getty Images is to be bought by its founders and investment company The Carlyle Group for $3.3bn. They will buy-out existing private equity firm Hellman & Friedman, which purchased Getty for $2.4bn four years ago. Carlyle, one of the world's largest private equity companies, will gain a controlling share of the company, while co-founders Mark Getty and Jonathan Klein, along with the Getty family, will also increase their stakes in the business.

In a press release about the move, Mark Getty said, 'In 17 years, we have built a business that has revolutionized the industry, with innovation at its core. I am confident that the partnership between Getty Images and The Carlyle Group will see the company’s success continue.'

Getty was the first major agency to license images online and has grown through the acquisition of other libraries and collections. It has also embraced the microstock concept, with its purchase of iStockphoto in 2006 and its deal with photo-sharing site Flickr, that lets users license their images through the company.

However, the glut of microstock images and images taken from the Internet has significantly undermined the traditional image licensing business model and Getty's continued success seems to stem, in-part, from its willingness to license images more cheaply and pay photographers a smaller proportion of the income. Trade group American Photographic Artists complained in 2011 that Getty's latest contracts pushed contributors to allow their images to be sold as part of royalty-free subscription packages, rather than being able to restrict their work so that it was licensed only on the traditional context-specific, per-use (and generally more lucrative) 'rights managed' basis.

The Carlyle Group is one of the world's largest private equity groups, with extensive investments running from the defense industry through to well-known brand names such as Dunkin Donuts.

In an interview with the British Journal of Photoraphy, co-founder and CEO Klein says the deal will allow the company to expand Internationally but that nothing will change, from a contributor point-of-view.

Comments

Total comments: 66
stockart
By stockart (Aug 30, 2012)

Everyone is tired of Getty, I'm thinking about signing up for a beta at Picturengine.com, they're not a stock agency; flat fee. Would like to see this type of selling model take off.

0 upvotes
glitched
By glitched (Aug 23, 2012)

What if everybody just stopped selling images to them?

0 upvotes
rashomon
By rashomon (Aug 18, 2012)

Has anyone here ever contributed to Getty? I would LOVE to hear from a photographer who uses them, what's it like, why, how much, how many etc...
They use be getting all these millions of images from somewhere.

0 upvotes
miodragj
By miodragj (Aug 18, 2012)

I had small but nice, steady income from iStockphoto, every month.

As i live in rather poor, East European country, that income really mean to me.

Before two years, when greedy corporation bought iStochphoto & Getty, they not even cut my royalties to shamefully 15%, but also remove my portfolio from search results! Why?

Because i was not exclusive contributor!

Also, i have seen that my really unique and exclusive photo compositions are reproduced by their exclusive artist and my work was simply forgotten, somewhere on their hard drives!

I have some income from other sites, but unfortunately iStock was the best...

2 upvotes
Paul Guba
By Paul Guba (Aug 18, 2012)

Years ago a professor said the world doesn't need more photographers it needs people who can organize all the images we already have. Getty does that increasingly at the expense of those who created the images they sell. Notably absent in the press release any mention of a relationship with their artist. The focus squarely on that of Getty's future success. Now with management in the hands of yet an even larger private equity corporation you can expect less revenue to go to the artist as that would be the most expedient path to greater profits.

1 upvote
miodragj
By miodragj (Aug 18, 2012)

This is simply not true!

With all technological and any others break true, there is a need for new photos, illustrations, etc.

Few years ago, I download one magazine, and saw really bad (to the bone) photo, for one new technology. That photo was from Getty library!

I saw that, search Getty immediately, and was amassed to see that photo was among the best, and there were around 20 photos which was really bad.
I took some time, and took some photos, do some CGI graphics, make compositions and put that pictures on sale on major microstock sites… I had really few bestsellers.

Now I regret why don’t I have try to place those to major libraries, but they are not too interested in newbies with just few hundreds photos!

1 upvote
dezinerd
By dezinerd (Aug 17, 2012)

So it is probably about supression. There are photos that Carlisle Group does not want to be widely shown. Think about that if you took the shot of Oswald being shot the agency might not want to show it if Ruby were one of your other employees or a contractor to a company owned by your corporartion. Just using a hypothetical example. Suppose there is a shot that pins GHB to Dallas on the day he denies and admits he was there. So you can see the Getty pics might be worth much more than your sunset photos.FWIW

3 upvotes
toomanycanons
By toomanycanons (Aug 16, 2012)

First thing they'll do is change how photographers are paid for their images. From now on the photographer will pay Getty Images for the privilege of giving them their work. It's a new day.

0 upvotes
nitroman
By nitroman (Aug 16, 2012)

We already do ! Photographers Choice brand demands $50 submission fee per image and Getty still rob 75% of the fee. Sad times. Getty, microstock and royalty free have killed the stock photo industry forever.

Comment edited 24 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Aug 16, 2012)

Given the small amount of money that most photography earns, it's hard not to see the irony in the Getty family selling to the Carlyle Group. I do hope these folks see a break in their taxes after the election. Gotta go--late for lunch at the Bohemian Grove.

0 upvotes
Gothmoth
By Gothmoth (Aug 16, 2012)

In Fahrenheit 911, Moore makes nine allegations concerning the Carlyle Group, including: That the Bin Laden and Bush families were both connected to the Group; that following the attacks on September 11, the bin Laden family’s investments in the Carlyle Group became an embarrassment to the Carlyle Group and the family was forced to liquidate their assets with the firm; that the Carlyle group was, in essence, the 11th largest defense contractor in the United States
In his documentary The World According to Bush (May 2004), William Karel interviewed Frank Carlucci to discuss the presence of Shafiq bin Laden, Osama bin Laden's estranged brother, at Carlyle's annual investor conference while the September 11 attacks were occurring.[39][40]
Zeitgeist The Movie makes similar claims that The Carlyle Group may have played a part in 9/11.[citation needed]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlyle_Group

----------------------

upppsss.... controling our images. :)

2 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Aug 16, 2012)

Next you'll allege they knocked off "Jocko," are descendents of the Templars, and are robbing your precious vital fluids!

Allegations are to facts what photoshopping is to photography. Carlyle is more open and transparent than many European banks and discloses more about its business than certain political candidates.

http://ir.carlyle.com/financials.cfm

It's impressive how people prefer third-handor tin-foil-at hearsay to seeing things themselves.

BTW, foreign investors in US Treasuries, real estate, and stocks are what buoy the dollar and make cameras cheap!

0 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Aug 16, 2012)

"Photographers should stand together!"

Easier to herd cats or create a syndicate of beggars. Too many are born anarchists. Few have the business sense to see that they've about as much say in profits as a cotton sharecropper. Public sanitation is a profession that offers superior fairness and standing. Private equity firms dare not mess with the guys in green dungarees, or there would be a real mess.

0 upvotes
Chris Tofalos
By Chris Tofalos (Aug 16, 2012)

The monster continues to grow - unchecked...

0 upvotes
nitroman
By nitroman (Aug 16, 2012)

So why can't we all club together and do something about it ?

The fact that Getty and co have managed to get away with all this for so long is ludicrous.

The split should be 75% / 25% in the photographers favour.

0 upvotes
caribou
By caribou (Aug 16, 2012)

Photoshelter tried to do this and sank alot of money into the project but it failed. Digital Railroad tried the same thing and went bust after spending $20million!

0 upvotes
graybalanced
By graybalanced (Aug 17, 2012)

This has been done before. The famous Magnum Photos cooperative was founded in 1947 by photographers including Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

"Magnum is one of the first photographic cooperatives, owned and administered entirely by members. The staff serve a support role for the photographers who retain all copyrights to their own work." - Wikipedia

So if any photographers feel like it should be done, then those photographers should go and do it.

0 upvotes
caribou
By caribou (Aug 16, 2012)

Mark Getty and Klein have robbed photographers from the very start. As soon as they took over Tony Stone they slashed royalties from 50% to 30%. At every opportunity they screwed us hard working photographers to such an extent that salaries have dived in the past few years by upto 95%. Like most greedy bankers they don't give a hoot about the staff that made them rich. At the end of the day it is the photographers that produce all the content. They embraced micro and RF as it made them a ton of money at the expense of the traditional license model. Now where are we - scraping for crumbs?

Comment edited 47 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Photomonkey
By Photomonkey (Aug 16, 2012)

All true. But they also noted that the legions of hobbyists out there were producing good, salable work in small volumes and that they would be tickled to get a nickel for their images.
Pure supply glut.

0 upvotes
nitroman
By nitroman (Aug 16, 2012)

This is what we should do Rashomon - create our own library that puts photographers first.

Why can't this be done ? Without new stock Getty would go out of business. We need some solidarity amongst the ranks.

For the life of me, I can't understand how photographers allow Getty to take the 75-80% lion's share of an image sale after we've paid for the shoot, edited and submitted.

This is why photographers are now going out of business as Getty has canibalised the photographic industry and raped their contributors to reap their own rich rewards.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
rashomon
By rashomon (Aug 16, 2012)

Couldn't agree more! Wouldn't even need solidarity. Just follow the model prevalent in so many tech giants. Photographers = software developers.
Even huge capitalist corps like google and Facebook have a substantial share holdings in the hands of their staff....
Photographers must be the least savvy ppl in the world unfortunately.

0 upvotes
rashomon
By rashomon (Aug 16, 2012)

Would be so much fun to take them out of business by creating a 'contributors get equity' agency and poaching all their decent photographers.

2 upvotes
balchinian
By balchinian (Aug 16, 2012)

Does the $3.3 billion expire when the copyrights expire?

1 upvote
philipspeakes
By philipspeakes (Aug 16, 2012)

Fascinating. Would this put the Carlyle Group in a position to control the availability of certain images?

2 upvotes
rashomon
By rashomon (Aug 16, 2012)

Of course, Getty already have that ability given the huge archive they control. Our collective visual memory is owned by a private equity bunch. And the creators of all that value barely see any revenue from the spoils...
Mmmm gives me that warm fuzzy feeling.

1 upvote
maboule123
By maboule123 (Aug 15, 2012)

What? What?!!!!
Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Milo, even the guy who shoot the famous Che picture....What do all these guys have in common? NO ONE made ANY money out of their works.
Don't tell me that you've just discovered capitalism?

1 upvote
Robgo2
By Robgo2 (Aug 15, 2012)

None of the artists that you name were capitalists, even though they were all paid for their work. No one works for free or can live on nothing. Please don't equate fair compensation with boundless, soul-crushing avarice, which is what the Carlyle Group and their ilk represent.

Most people do not understand the true meaning of capitalism. They assume that it is the same as freedom or free enterprise. I would respectfully suggest that you do some research on the subject. You might even start with Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism

Cheers.

5 upvotes
graybalanced
By graybalanced (Aug 15, 2012)

I don't think this is so out of place as it may seem. (Not defending Getty or Carlyle in the least, but...)

Actually, what a lot of those guys had in common was that they were hired to make their great works by some people with a metric shedload of money. It was true trickle-down economics. The Medici and others had the riches, and the artists received but a trickle. Kind of the way Getty pays photographers.

1 upvote
Robgo2
By Robgo2 (Aug 16, 2012)

Right you are. And in our own time, a minute fraction of artists get very rich off their work. But their riches still pale in comparison to the truly great fortunes. Think Paul McCartney vs. Lloyd Blankfein (CEO of Goldman Sachs). Yet which of these two has brought more joy into the world and made it a better place for virtually everyone? It's Paul, of course, and I don't begrudge him one cent of his wealth. He deserves it.

0 upvotes
Vlad S
By Vlad S (Aug 16, 2012)

Where did you get the idea that they did not get any money for their works? Some artists were on salary, others were commissioned to produce specific works. And what Milo are you talking about?

2 upvotes
skytripper
By skytripper (Aug 16, 2012)

What we so blithely call "capitalism" is basically the freedom of predators to turn the rest of us into prey.

0 upvotes
ArmandN
By ArmandN (Aug 16, 2012)

You are wrong. Da Vinci, Michelangelo and others were HIRED and PAID for their work. Sistine Chapel was paid by the Church, as was the Last Supper. David was paid by the local Florence government. Other works were created for rich people - such as the De Medici family.

Throughout history, painters, musicians and sculptors were commissioned work and were paid for. Some, who did not have recognition at the time, first painted and then tried to sell it.

They didn't really need copyright because duplicating one of their works was hard enough (you'd need another artist as good as the original).

1 upvote
jedinstvo
By jedinstvo (Aug 16, 2012)

The guy who shot the Che photo was working for the Cuban government and had voluntarily ceded all rights to his photos to the government. Because Cuba did not sign the international copyright treaty no royalties were paid to anybody. So this example of yours has nothing to do with capitalism.

1 upvote
jadmaister2
By jadmaister2 (Aug 16, 2012)

so you think michaelangelo did the chapel for free? hahahahahahahah

1 upvote
s.seng
By s.seng (Aug 19, 2012)

I don,t think Sir paul deserve more than others who work for living. If everyone want a royality for their work then nobody will be rich. We live in a system which wrongly reward few people instead of eveyone getting a fair income.

0 upvotes
Robgo2
By Robgo2 (Aug 15, 2012)

Isn't capitalism great? Now, some of the world's great photographic images will be controlled by a group of bloodthirsty sharks. (Blood = Money in this case.)

0 upvotes
graybalanced
By graybalanced (Aug 17, 2012)

As is often said, capitalism is the worst economic system...except for all of the others that have been tried.

Under capitalism, it is possible for you to own your work and to charge a market rate for it. (If someone else is, that means you signed away your rights at some point.)

Under some other economic systems, the proceeds of your work may be heavily diverted to the state, or your work might be considered the property of the state. So instead of a private equity firm owning the art, it becomes owned by bureaucrats who don't care.

Capitalism is not the problem. The problem is photographers who do not understand capitalism vs other systems.

1 upvote
57even
By 57even (Aug 17, 2012)

Thank you Graybalanced

We are all worth what someone else is will to pay for our productivity, and we are all free to look around for willing customers, or choose professions which pay better, or mortgage our houses and start our own companies.

You can also start an image agency. On the web, such things are easier than ever. You just need a business brain and some customers. But you DO have to have something worth selling, which the founders of Magnum certainly did.

You can also find an agency other than Getty with better terms, but you may find that some of them set the entry barrier quite high and some have very little penetration.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Paul B Jones
By Paul B Jones (Aug 15, 2012)

Interesting, workers (photographers) create the value, but a large percentage of that value is expropriated by capital - sort of like what Karl Marx said would happen.

Maybe it is time for photographers to create a stock image collective of our own. After all, without our work Getty is nothing.

5 upvotes
adrianflower
By adrianflower (Aug 15, 2012)

Hear hear Paul. Getty, urgghhh, as soon as they smell a buck they swallow it up. Horrible soulless organisation.

Maybe it IS time to create our very own Image Collective.

1 upvote
Walter Rowe
By Walter Rowe (Aug 15, 2012)

It is easy to do with virtual agencies on PhotoShelter. We have one set up for music photographers already.

http://www.photoshelter.com/va-show/V0000sxyUNSZvp1Y

1 upvote
rashomon
By rashomon (Aug 15, 2012)

I despise Getty, they are the worst kind of broker, they add no value other than squeeze producers and consumers. Their technology sucks and their self congratulating smugness makes me sick. Their model is built around ripping photographers off. Plain and simple.

But the saddest and most pathetic part of the story is that the real fault lies with us, the looser photographers who tolerate our work being sucked on by the likes of Getty, making hundreds of millions in revenues and seeing only a tiny fraction of that fed back.

I do believe that if we photographers are dumb enough to allow Getty to exist than we probably deserve the fate they will endevour to impose on us.

3 upvotes
bdkr65
By bdkr65 (Aug 17, 2012)

@Walter Rowe how is that site working for your group?

0 upvotes
57even
By 57even (Aug 17, 2012)

The same could be said of the engineers who build these amazing digital cameras we all love. How much extra would you be willing to pay to make sure they get 40% of each camera sold?

0 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (Aug 15, 2012)

Well they're not Gettying my images :p

4 upvotes
Michael Ma
By Michael Ma (Aug 15, 2012)

Overpaid! I loathe them for hoarding photographs and giving you thumbnails to look at. What is a good photograph for anyway? Apparently, it is used for suing people.

1 upvote
JordanAT
By JordanAT (Aug 15, 2012)

As someone who was (imho) unfairly targeted in their little extortion racket, I try to avoid dealing with them whenever possible. Sadly, there are fewer and fewer outlets as they try to corner their portion of the market.

2 upvotes
Sabatia
By Sabatia (Aug 15, 2012)

The Carlyle Group is primarily made up of former big league defense contractors and oil magnates and their friends. Dick Cheney was among the founders. Very rich, very smart, very greedy and completely without morals, and even less aesthetics, except making more money.

14 upvotes
joejack951
By joejack951 (Aug 15, 2012)

Less Aesthetics? Are you calling them ugly?

2 upvotes
offertonhatter
By offertonhatter (Aug 15, 2012)

Getty do have some excellent images from history, and possibly influenced the world for the better.
Now that the Carlyle group have got their hands on it, I am worried for the future.

2 upvotes
offertonhatter
By offertonhatter (Aug 15, 2012)

Sabatia, Dick Cheney was co founder of Haliburton, not Carlyle. However, Carlyle did have George H W Bush as senior advisor, and his chief of defence on the board. So in reality, just as dubious as Haliburton.

0 upvotes
Edwaste
By Edwaste (Aug 15, 2012)

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, that's a lot of history in the hands of people like the Caryle Group. Very troubling to me.
I don't think money alone was the motive behind this purchase.

2 upvotes
Banhmi
By Banhmi (Aug 15, 2012)

Getty Images was sold from Hellman & Friedman (another of the largest u.s. private equity firms) to Carlyle. The guys who work at Hellman & Friedman are absolutely as ruthless in their pursuit of profits as Carlyle. You might never have heard of Hellman & Friedman, but there is extremely little different between them and the guys who buy media assets at Carlyle.

4 upvotes
Paul Takeuchi
By Paul Takeuchi (Aug 16, 2012)

While I'm a little worried about the profit incentive and screwing photographers out of fair royalites, I'm most worried about censorship and editing of images that may make the owners and its far-reaching cabal of advisers and directors--ex-presidents, government officials, and neocons--look bad. I suspect that visual history may get a nice rewrite.

1 upvote
farrukh
By farrukh (Aug 15, 2012)

Good to see someone somewhere is making money out of Getty images, despite numerous sales my Getty income stream is a mere trickle.

2 upvotes
Dan Nikon
By Dan Nikon (Aug 15, 2012)

I still make tens of thousands a year off of stock because I did NOT go with Getty and instead, took my highly specialized niche images totally underground. That way not even their art directors can find my work and assign some hack to copy it. Best move I ever made in my career was not going with garbage-flickertastic Getty.

Comment edited 14 seconds after posting
5 upvotes
Rubenski
By Rubenski (Aug 15, 2012)

Hi Dan, any chance of sharing your secret with me? I can't make a dime selling stock.

0 upvotes
Roberto Mettifogo
By Roberto Mettifogo (Aug 15, 2012)

same here, years ago with getty the sales were great, now sales number are about the same but incomes are lot lot lower...

0 upvotes
Camediadude
By Camediadude (Aug 16, 2012)

Is it a naughty niche?

0 upvotes
Bruce kendall
By Bruce kendall (Aug 15, 2012)

For that kind of money you could do a lot better from an investment point of you.They must have money to waste?
Glad it aint my money

0 upvotes
mister_roboto
By mister_roboto (Aug 15, 2012)

To make money- you have to have money. Lots and lots of money.

0 upvotes
carlosdelbianco
By carlosdelbianco (Aug 15, 2012)

That's why you make more money than they do - they just take decisions based on intuition.

Comment edited 18 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Funduro
By Funduro (Aug 16, 2012)

Not a pro, but the pro's must be feeling depressed that the suits buy and sell the "library" like diamonds and copper. Looks to me the ones who will profits rather handsomely will be the top stake holders. The one' that have a hard time programing the VCR while wearing a Rolex get the lions share of the money and the photographers get the Royal Scepter...

BTW avatar is by Steve McCurry, Got the original NG mag too.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Aug 16, 2012)

Does Mr. McCurry get his royalty? That aside, I always suspected the eyes' color was a bit doctored. Efforts to find the girl (now a grown woman) yielded no one with that appearance.

0 upvotes
Ken Seals
By Ken Seals (Aug 16, 2012)

Totally wrong. She was found in 2002. See the Wikipedia article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghan_Girl

2 upvotes
dezinerd
By dezinerd (Aug 17, 2012)

Just guessing this is not about pretty pictures but about the distrabution of certain photos. There is a multibillion dollar presidential election going on and probably the rightwing prowar interest wish to make sure certain photos are not used.
So what is worth a billion in the photo biz?
Mitts dog on the roof covered in excretment
W walking with a Torah in his hand
Paul Ryan photos
Mitt kicking back in Paris during the Viet Nam war..................
you get the idea it is not about showing photos but making sure they are not shown

1 upvote
Total comments: 66