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iStockphoto founder launches Stocksy, an artist-owned stock photo service

By dpreview staff on Mar 27, 2013 at 18:25 GMT

Bruce Livingstone, founder of iStockphoto (which has since been acquired by Getty Images), has launched Stocksy, an artist-owned stock photography co-operative. Under its licensing terms, photographers receive 50% of each royalty transaction. Each photographer also receives equity and is entitled to a share of the co-operative's annual profits. This launch comes hot on the heels of a recent controversial deal between popular stock photo service Getty Images and Google, in which Google Drive's image vault gives public access to over 5000 Getty images with very little compensation to the photographers.

Photographer and popular photo blogger Thomas Hawk is one of the first to sign up with Stocksy after being frustrated with Getty's terms. He wrote an open letter to Getty about why he quit its service and switched over to Stocksy. You can read it in his blog post.


Press Release:

STOCKSY TRANSFORMS STOCK PHOTO LICENSING WITH CO-OP STRUCTURE, FAIR COMPENSATION FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS

Newest Venture From iStockphoto Founder Offers Creators Higher Royalties, Unprecedented Control, Ownership in Sustainable Marketplace

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA (March 25, 2013) — Stocksy, a digital licensing co-op launching March 25, 2013, is a new concept in the world of stock photography: An online marketplace owned collectively by its photographer-members and dedicated to paying them the maximum fees possible for their work.

Founded by Bruce Livingstone, who invented microstock with iStockphoto—which he sold to Getty Images in 2006 —Stocksy was built out of his experience shaping the ground floor of the sector. Stocksy is a cooperative designed to respect the work of the artist and whose very system of shared ownership and profit sharing allows for real, sustainable careers for all participants in the marketplace.

Under its revolutionary model, photographers will receive a 50% royalty on each transaction and 100% on extended licenses; what’s more, 90% of all profits will be divided among members at year’s end. Photographers who are accepted into the co-op also receive equity and have a real say in how the business is operated.

The Stocksy team. Founder Bruce Livingstone is the second guy standing from the right (with the tattooed-arm)

'We wanted to create a marketplace for photographers that was not only democratic, but fair and sustainable,' Livingstone says. 'There’s no reason these artists shouldn’t be able to earn a living from what they produce. We believe that through this equitable, participatory structure and a straightforward, transparent compensation system - combined with the knowledge of the marketplace we bring to the table - Stocksy will quickly amass the finest pool of photographic content on the Web.'

The Canadian-born Livingstone followed several divergent paths - including theology studies at the University of Calgary and drumming in punk-rock band The Bittermen - before starting iStockphoto in 2000. Initially it was a free service, but growing traffic required him to begin charging small, incremental fees to cover bandwidth costs; thus was microstock licensing born.

When Getty acquired iStockphoto, it also acquired him. But Livingstone saw that the democratization that iStockPhoto brought to the marketplace didn’t go far enough. More innovation was required to bring fairness into the equation.

The conception of Stocksy brings Livingstone full circle to the dawning days of iStockphoto - but this time, substantive royalties and member ownership are built into its design. 'Photographers have never had this level of participation and control in the stock world,' he says. 'We believe Stocksy represents an opportunity to change the industry permanently - and for the better.'

Comments

Total comments: 40
Jun2
By Jun2 (Mar 30, 2013)

I am surprised that Getty images didn't put the condition that the guy can't start a competing service before buying the istockphoto.

0 upvotes
dcdigitalphoto
By dcdigitalphoto (Mar 30, 2013)

I'll reply to you what I replied below to the person who asked the same question less than half a page down. Bruce sold it a number of years ago and the non-compete agreement has expired. Which isn't to say Getty isn't taking it's pound of flesh. They have cancelled the iStock accounts of at least two contributors. One was a former iStock employee who's non-compete had also expired. More significantly was Sean Locke who has sold around 1 million images on iStock and had done little more than complain about Getty's practices re Google Drive and be loosely involved the FB group associated with Stocksy. Here is his blog post about it. http://seanlockephotography.com/2013/02/11/a-change-in-things/

0 upvotes
Jun2
By Jun2 (Mar 31, 2013)

Thanks for the answer. I hope he will find another good site for him soon. As for the Stocksy, do you trust him that he won't sold the site again in future.? You will end up looking for another place again.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Jack Simpson
By Jack Simpson (Mar 28, 2013)

On the otherhand, Victoria has been the launch pad of many a good photo-oriented venture such as ACDSee :)

0 upvotes
Jack Simpson
By Jack Simpson (Mar 28, 2013)

Maybe he, Stocksy, is hoping that it'll become super popular and Google/FaceBook/Yahoo/Microsoft will decide that "they" have to
have it and the coffers will be filled once more?

0 upvotes
dcsimages1
By dcsimages1 (Mar 28, 2013)

So, the guy who basically single-handedly destroyed 80% of the value of the stock industry in a fit of pique is now going to "save" it?

7 upvotes
communicat
By communicat (Mar 28, 2013)

Another way to see it is that iStock was simply an inevitable business reaction to an unnatural market condition. If it wasn't Bruce Livingston, it would have been someone else.

Getty and other traditional agencies let only a few photographers play in their sandpit. The standard Getty rejection letter gave you the feeling that they didn't wany you to try submit again . . . ever.

Getty and other agencies built a wall to keep aspiring photographers out and prices artificially high. No matter how well lit, "Household iron isolated on white" should not fetch $250 for web use.

When the dam wall broke, did Getty counter with a "midstock" agency to move high quality files away from the micros? Not at all, they arrogantly dissed the whole microstock movement until it was too late for them.

Will low pricing last? Not at all - pricing for good images is heading north again - but now from a stable and realistic demand/supply base that will ultimatley prove to be both healthy and sustainable.

4 upvotes
M Lammerse
By M Lammerse (Mar 28, 2013)

The 'iphone generation' hipster style desaturated images was noted by me too.
And when signing up they let you know that if "your" images are suiting "their" taste they will contact you.

Especially as a starting stock site I would take an as wide as possible 'quality' approach, and leaving taste a bit out of it. I also would offer news/recent events as part of the collection, I know myself that this is often asked.

1 upvote
jtan163
By jtan163 (Mar 28, 2013)

As suggested on the "Call to Artists" page I had a look at their Pinterest page to get an idea of the style and direction of the images required.

It appears that de-saturating images is required, and instagram filtering is encouraged.

That said you gotta applaud the fact they are paying the artists a decent rate.

Details on the co-operative aspect appear scant - any one notice any details on the cop-operative arrangements or seen the artists' contract?

It will be interesting to see the direction the company takes over a year or two.

I hope they succeed are able to maintain a decent rate for the shooters.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
AV Janus
By AV Janus (Mar 28, 2013)

I must say i am surprised. They receive only 50% ??
How much did they get on Getty?

0 upvotes
schorscho
By schorscho (Mar 28, 2013)

one can read does have an advantage....
read it again it's actually 90%
on Getty you do get 20% for RF

0 upvotes
communicat
By communicat (Mar 28, 2013)

20% in many cases.

1 upvote
AV Janus
By AV Janus (Mar 28, 2013)

Damn,

20% should go to the stock company... they do less than career managers...
80% should be illegal...

4 upvotes
beckmarc
By beckmarc (Mar 28, 2013)

A co-op makes a lot of sense. I have expecting one to emerge for some time. The artists should share in the profit and not just work for big business for pittance

3 upvotes
Alex Efimoff
By Alex Efimoff (Mar 28, 2013)

Just another stock photography website with more hipstamatic shots. Hipster's commercial paradise.

2 upvotes
Camillo
By Camillo (Mar 28, 2013)

Well working in advertising, I've noticed that all sites have lost the quality material they once had.

Personally I miss the days of tony stone and image bank. All this cheap stock sites ruined everything. The quality of the work used to be superb and now all you get is amateurish work.

4 upvotes
epozar
By epozar (Mar 28, 2013)

Do you think that *distribution* ruined everything? The buyer can't get original and exclusive images anywhere today..

Emil Pozar, http://emil-pozar.photoshelter.com/

2 upvotes
M Lammerse
By M Lammerse (Mar 27, 2013)

With the large amount of excellent stock sites already around, the huge number of images they offer it will be very hard to compete. Clients want choice, and there is a huge choice out there.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
designdef
By designdef (Mar 27, 2013)

Could be a good idea but has sadly kicked off with no visible 'about' page, an annoying, constantly scrolling view of 'images', a rather obscure search box, over simplistic 'price list' and an invitation to 'sign up' for what? They seem to be more concerned with the location of their office than securing image buyers. Looks as if they need a lesson in 'real world' stock sales. Rather a bad start:(

2 upvotes
JayFromSA
By JayFromSA (Mar 27, 2013)

Sounds fantastic and I wish them well. I just hope this time money is no object and he won't sell out to the highest bidder... again. Time will tell.

2 upvotes
JadedGamer
By JadedGamer (Mar 27, 2013)

Sounds like Pond5 with stronger curation and a stake in the company for contributors. Good luck, more options is always better.

2 upvotes
Ulfric M Douglas
By Ulfric M Douglas (Mar 27, 2013)

Surely when he sold his company they got him to sign an agreement to NOT compete with them with a new business?
Anyway, TWO founders (count them) with huge foreheads is a great start!
I would certainly join this thing if that was my thing.

2 upvotes
dcdigitalphoto
By dcdigitalphoto (Mar 27, 2013)

Bruce sold it a number of years ago and the non-compete agreement has expired. Which isn't to say Getty isn't taking it's pound of flesh. They have cancelled the iStock accounts of at least two contributors. One was a former iStock employee who's non-compete had also expired. More significantly was Sean Locke who has sold around 1 million images on iStock and had done little more than complain about Getty's practices re Google Drive and be loosely involved the FB group associated with Stocksy. Here is his blog post about it. http://seanlockephotography.com/2013/02/11/a-change-in-things/

2 upvotes
LensBeginner
By LensBeginner (Mar 27, 2013)

Can't find the "Content License Agreement", the "Standard pricing and payment policies" and there's a note that says " [NTD: This will have to be prepared.]".

Still not fully mature yet, it seems.

As an amateur interested in getting a little money to fund lenses, with as little fuss as possible, and if it doesn't work out who cares, I'm quite interested.

0 upvotes
dcdigitalphoto
By dcdigitalphoto (Mar 27, 2013)

Many seasoned stock shooters with multi-thousand image portfolios at other stock sites have been turned away already. They have a "look" and production quality they are striving for and the bar is very high. If you want to cut your teeth on stock and earn some lens money you're better off building the skills and a portfolio and somewhere like Shutterstock or Dreamstime and then applying to Stocksy. You could try iStockphoto as well, but be warned Getty is trying it's best to give you nothing (or as little as possible) and take all your work. Look into the Google Drive deal referenced above if you want to see what I mean.

2 upvotes
LensBeginner
By LensBeginner (Mar 28, 2013)

Thanks for the heads-up.
I was under the impression that at least some of the "Curated" selection that is on the homepage wasn't of the highest quality.
Apparently I was wrong.

0 upvotes
Paul B Jones
By Paul B Jones (Mar 27, 2013)

Fantastic! It's the Mountain Equipment Co-op of stock photography. I got a form letter on Flickr from Getty asking me to sign up with them. No way. But Stocksy's kind of worker self-management is the way of the future (and clearly threatening to some of you folks).

8 upvotes
lensez
By lensez (Mar 27, 2013)

"Stocksy's kind of worker self-management is the way of the future." Agreed. This does have potential to change the industry. Self-owned businesses provide more job satisfaction and out-perform public corporations that live for quarterly earnings per share. This venture holds out the promise of giving artists a fair deal long-term, not only in its start-up phase. Kudos to Livingstone.

Comment edited 52 seconds after posting
9 upvotes
graybalanced
By graybalanced (Mar 27, 2013)

It is also the way of the past, and I mean that in a good way. The famous Magnum photo agency started when Henri Cartier Bresson, Robert Capa, and other independent photographers wanted to get away from their agencies and launched their own in 1947.

2 upvotes
Cy Cheze
By Cy Cheze (Mar 27, 2013)

Participants entitled to a share of annual profits? Are there any? How are the shares apportioned? Perhaps this way: A) person submits one fabulous photo that reaps $100k in royalties and gets X% of zero profits; B) person submits 100k photos that get no royalties and gets the 0% of zero profits; and C) person who submits no photos but, as entrepreneur, eventually sells the company and does very well. Kudos to "C." Ingenious.

1 upvote
epozar
By epozar (Mar 27, 2013)

no RM license :((
No place for a serious photographer.
Emil Pozar, http://emil-pozar.photoshelter.com/

1 upvote
communicat
By communicat (Mar 27, 2013)

And they are not alone . . . Shutterstock is heading straight at Getty's traditional market too when their premium "marketplace", www.offset.com, lanuches soon.

Bout time someone gave it back to Getty and their corporate bully-boys. Hopefully those services who treat their contributors with at least some form of respect will eventually rise to the top.

5 upvotes
ItsNotThatEasy
By ItsNotThatEasy (Mar 27, 2013)

Lol...Beards, tattoos, the word "sustainable", pictures tagged "Portland, Oregon" and former musicians who weren't good enough to make it in music so they defaulted to photography. Wow...How many times can you say "Hipster"?

3 upvotes
GBC
By GBC (Mar 27, 2013)

What are you saying? Are you discriminating against people based on their look or musical ability?

The guy started a company from scratch that sold for $50 million. He started it as a free service. He started another company to nurture artists.

You claim to fame is you don't like failed musicians or "hipsters".

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 35 seconds after posting
26 upvotes
Paul B Jones
By Paul B Jones (Mar 27, 2013)

Congratulations on your first DPReview post. Coincidence or conundrum?

5 upvotes
steelhead3
By steelhead3 (Mar 27, 2013)

You have something against Portland Oregon?

5 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (Mar 27, 2013)

Calling someone "hipster" is discriminating?
Since WHEN?!

Comment edited 16 seconds after posting
1 upvote
JadedGamer
By JadedGamer (Mar 27, 2013)

I used "hipster" discriminatingly before it was cool.

7 upvotes
Richard Weisgrau
By Richard Weisgrau (Mar 28, 2013)

The founder(s) of the coop say " Stocksy, a digital licensing co-op launching March 25, 2013, is a new concept in the world of stock photography: An online marketplace owned collectively by its photographer-members."

While I applaud the effort the fact is that MIRA.Com was, as far as I know, the first photographer stock agency co-op. I was executive director of ASMP from 1988 through 2002. ASMP set the wheels in motion to form MIRA by securing the capital and photographers to make it work. That was in 2000. The 9/11/2001 tragedy held it back as the economy went bad, but it did survive and is licensing images today. Check out www.mira.com.

1 upvote
MikeStern
By MikeStern (Mar 28, 2013)

"Itsnotthateasy" was only joining guys. Take it easy.
I personally found his comment really funny and spot on.
:)

0 upvotes
Total comments: 40