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.

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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:


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.'