Getty Images’ Contract Terms

Eugene Mopsik speaks out on ASMP’s ongoing advocacy related to new Getty Contract

May 2, 2011

ASMP has been carrying on a dialogue with Getty for some years; the new Getty contract is another acknowledgement that the market for images and the way in which those images are purchased is rapidly changing. While ASMP has had recent discussions with Getty, substantive results in the best interests of photographers have not been achieved. Therefore, ASMP believes that it is important for members to stay knowledgeable about the changes in the market and to be aware of options including changing distributors and self-marketing. ASMP will continue to represent photographers’ interests and keep our membership informed of new developments.

For the majority of our members, the new Getty contract changes are not advantageous and should be viewed as an opportune time to re-evaluate options.

  • For many years, ASMP has counseled photographers to take back control of the sale and license of their images. Services such as: can help photographers in their efforts to bring images to the marketplace and be found. 
  • Photographers may also find it useful to work together forming virtual agencies with colleagues to offer niche collections and make available better marketing opportunities.
  • Since not all stock agencies treat their contributors the same, the association for stock agencies, PACA is a good resource for researching various agencies and their terms.
  • Strategically, imaging professionals need to sell clients on custom photography that offers image users more control of their brand through unique and creative imagery.

Our many ongoing conversations with Getty over the years have yielded few if any substantive changes in their position and strategy. Legal action or ultimatums will not yield any better results. The current contract is their response to the demands of the marketplace as they see them, with little regard as to whether it affords the opportunity for a sustainable living for the majority of their contributors.

Specifically, in early April, ASMP had a conversation with highly placed representatives of Getty. We discussed the movement of images from RM to RF, the rate card, and other issues related and unrelated to the contract. Subsequently, it was announced on the Getty Contributor List that some changes had been made in the agreement related to the movement of images from RM to RF. These changes offered some improvement over the original contract; but still left photographers with what many would consider to be far less than a favorable deal.

The stock industry has for many been a race to the bottom. We witnessed significant consolidation in the stock image distribution industry and the creation of new stock models — royalty free, subscription and micro-stock — that were eroding and have continued to erode the market for original photography. The demise of the “agent” relationship between stock distributors and their contributors triggered the end of the profitable era for many stock photographers. Photographers who at one time envisioned a long-term income stream to fund their “retirement” watched as the value of their collections rapidly diminished. This race has in large part been under the supervision and control of the buyers of images. It is the marketplace that has sustained Royalty Free and the Subscription models and now Micro.

So, as always, the heavy lifting is up to the photographer. Evaluate your current and future expected distributor relationship and see if the long term looks profitable. If not, seriously explore some of the options available. You don’t have to make an absolute choice — hedge your bets to the extent that your contracts allow and explore other options. The only sure thing is that, for the majority of us, future Getty contracts will not be any better.

Going forward, ASMP will continue to monitor changes and trends, actively participate in the conversations both nationally and internationally, and bring to our members the issues and our suggestions for dealing with them. For more background on the Getty contract and ASMP’s actions and concerns, click here.

Eugene Mopsik
Executive Director, ASMP
May 2, 2011