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Microstock Photography Forum - General => General Stock Discussion => Topic started by: Donvanstaden on July 31, 2013, 06:08

Title: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: Donvanstaden on July 31, 2013, 06:08
Is it possible that agencies are selling our images and not paying us for every sale? Scary thought!!
Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: xerith on July 31, 2013, 06:17
I've always thought that.... but it seems that there is little we can do about it...
Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: picture5469 on July 31, 2013, 06:25
Well Istock solved that problem by writing into the agreement that they can give your photos away for FREE!
Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: luissantos84 on July 31, 2013, 07:14
we can test it
Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: gbalex on July 31, 2013, 07:16
Sound at all familiar

Snip

The Stock Artists Alliance’s ongoing Investigative Shopping Project revealed these hidden, often layered, sub-distribution arrangements. Photographers who had been puzzled by surprisingly low licence fees now had an explanation; many had been unaware that the revenues they received were often a meagre single-digit share of the licence fee, rather than their contracted royalty rate. When asked directly about these practices and the lack of transparency, the company line was always the same: these deals are essentially none of your business.

SAA’s study also suggested a troubling degree of accounting errors, as most of our investigative buys failed to be reported to artists until we contacted the company after a year or more of waiting. In 2007, a controller-turned-whistleblower gave SAA internal accounting documents, alleging that one major library owed several million dollars to contributors in back royalties. The company was dismissive of the accusations but SAA contacted hundreds of artists and substantiated the claims, leading to much of the monies owed being paid.

Back in the studios, the professional photographers anxiously watched the steady decline of their royalty revenues, commonly experiencing a 30-50 percent drop over the past few years, to as much as a 90 percent drop today. Once valued contributors, they found themselves increasingly marginalised. With their trust in the distributor relationships reduced, and a loss of confidence that investments in image making would be recouped, professional photographers started to drop out. Sadly, this was the root cause behind our decision to close SAA this year. As the stakeholders have dwindled, it was no longer economically viable to run a trade group dedicated to protecting their interests. SAA will officially shut down at the end of 2011.

http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/opinion/2072022/stockpiling-trouble-stock-industry-ate#ixzz2aclYw3nK (http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/opinion/2072022/stockpiling-trouble-stock-industry-ate#ixzz2aclYw3nK)

Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: shudderstok on July 31, 2013, 07:32
you don't know, and you never will. it's a trust thing.
Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: Beppe Grillo on July 31, 2013, 07:36
Is it possible that agencies are selling our images and not paying us for every sale? Scary thought!!

My wife asks me this almost everyday.
I confess that I am unable to give her an answer…
Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: Ploink on July 31, 2013, 07:47
Is it possible that agencies are selling our images and not paying us for every sale? Scary thought!!

My wife asks me this almost everyday.
I confess that I am unable to give her an answer…

Ask her to do some "mystery shopping", then you'll both have an answer  ;)

As someone wiser than me wrote not too long ago, if you seriously think that your business partner is actively cheating you, then it is time to end the partnership.

Are agencies trying to shift costs for refunds, discounts, etc. towards us? Yes, they do! Are they creative when it comes to rounding sums, calculating currency conversion, etc.? Absolutely! Are they actively cheating us by not reporting sales and skimming money? I don't think so, I believe they are just ruthless, not downright criminal...
Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: ShadySue on July 31, 2013, 08:48
Are agencies trying to shift costs for refunds, discounts, etc. towards us? Yes, they do! Are they creative when it comes to rounding sums, calculating currency conversion, etc.? Absolutely! Are they actively cheating us by not reporting sales and skimming money? I don't think so, I believe they are just ruthless, not downright criminal...
Plus they get into deals or 'partnerships' with other entities and no doubt award themselves a good whack for brokering the deal, while heavily discounting the images involved in the deal so we lose out, and although they will be getting lower $$ for each sale, their brokerage costs balance it out.
Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: EmberMike on July 31, 2013, 09:05

I think these companies have too much to risk to cheat us. If a company were doing this, it's not something they could keep quiet for very long. It would be discovered somehow, through experiments like what the SAA was doing, or through an employee who blows the whistle. It would take too many people being in the know to pull this off, programmers, accountants, too many ways for a leak to happen.

And if a company were discovered to be cheating artists, they'd be dead in the water. No one would send their work there anymore.

Seems like too much of a risk to take to save a few bucks (or cents).
Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: luissantos84 on July 31, 2013, 09:12

I think these companies have too much to risk to cheat us. If a company were doing this, it's not something they could keep quiet for very long. It would be discovered somehow, through experiments like what the SAA was doing, or through an employee who blows the whistle. It would take too many people being in the know to pull this off, programmers, accountants, too many ways for a leak to happen.

And if a company were discovered to be cheating artists, they'd be dead in the water. No one would send their work there anymore.

Seems like too much of a risk to take to save a few bucks (or cents).

a single sale / day / contributor can mean a lot of money, that said I agree with you, I don't think that agencies are doing this, if there are any I would bet on very small ones
Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: halfshag on July 31, 2013, 09:17
we can test it

That's right.
Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: gostwyck on July 31, 2013, 09:31
we can test it

That's right.

I have done tests in the past on several different agencies (on a very minor level) and have never found anything untoward. If I thought it were a real issue then I would definitely organise some private 'secret shopping' tests amongst my friends, here and elsewhere.
Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: pixel86 on July 31, 2013, 11:47

I think these companies have too much to risk to cheat us. If a company were doing this, it's not something they could keep quiet for very long. It would be discovered somehow, through experiments like what the SAA was doing, or through an employee who blows the whistle. It would take too many people being in the know to pull this off, programmers, accountants, too many ways for a leak to happen.

And if a company were discovered to be cheating artists, they'd be dead in the water. No one would send their work there anymore.

Seems like too much of a risk to take to save a few bucks (or cents).


On the other hand, embezzlers often get away with their cheating for years.


If verizon wants to make a fast million, they just add a few cents to everyones bill...you wont notice the few cents, but even if you do, its usually not worth worrying about. Multiplied by how many millions of customers?


No doubt in my mind that this is happening. Since they wont give contributors an exact accounting of what has transpired, i totally believe shenanigans are going on. Thats what greedy people do...steal and then lie about it.
Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: Uncle Pete on July 31, 2013, 12:24
It's possible and while I believe that agencies are honest and have accounting checks and balances, which would expose fraud. Unlikely and improbable. They make more by being honest and wouldn't want to risk it all for some spare change. Big agencies. This doesn't apply to the loser parasites that are living off * artists blood, drop by drop. (potentially any on the right with no numbers)

I don't trust mystery partners and sales that we have no way to review or account for. Thus, I avoid any agency that has "Partner Programs" which the partners are not disclosed.

Hey wasn't there a site that lost it's partner contracts because they were storing images on their own servers and thus, preventing the agency and us from traceability and tracking knowledge of sales. Very suspicious.

Is it possible that agencies are selling our images and not paying us for every sale? Scary thought!!
Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: ernstblucher on July 31, 2013, 12:49
 8)
We can't know it. This is why some stock sites have become so rich so quickly perhaps  ;).

However, not possible with thousands of images, you can double check with Tineye or google image where your work is online (if it's online).
Only issue: with royalty free, no way to know if it's legitimate or not since most microstock won't give you the name of the buyers...

This problem is solved with Right managed libraries like Corbis or Getty. But even there, you can't really know if they don't trick you...

Again, the microstock model gives all the advantages to the microstock company and  buyers, almost none to the essence and fuel of the system, the contributor.

They can boast to have millions of images because of you only...

The only way to get out of it is to sell your work directly. Then you control price, distribution , and copyright. It would also send the right signal to some market idiots who think a picture should cost 10 cents.
Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: cobalt on July 31, 2013, 13:02
I have friends who are designers/work in marketing. When they buy one of my files, they let me know. So far all sales have always been recorded. I think today it is very easy to verify if sales are being recorded correctly. In the old days the payments was often months after the order was placed, so I can imagine there was a lot more opportunity for error on all sides. These days the computer does the instant accounting in real time.

Not saying it doesn´t happen, but if it does, it will affect thousands of people who can share this info with each other. Just look at the recent problems with PP sales on istock. The community could easily identify the days were royalties were missing and the istock IT people can then rerun their scripts.

Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: ShadySue on July 31, 2013, 16:17
I have friends who are designers/work in marketing. When they buy one of my files, they let me know.
If I had friends who bought my images for business, I'd rather they bought them directly from me than give any sort of percentage to an agency.
Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: Red Dove on July 31, 2013, 16:29
I don't want to add anything else to the long list of things to vex myself with in this business and until someone proves it to be the case I've decided not to worry about it 8)

PS. I'll take Jasmin's (Cobalt) word for it that all is above board for now.
Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: cobalt on July 31, 2013, 16:37
I´m not saying it doesn´t happen, but with the big agencies, as long as they buy and credit us in real time, I think we would all notice pretty fast if there was a widespread problem.

@Sue

I agree and in the future I hope they will buy direct. But I used to be exclusive...and anyway if my friends have a  credit package and are usually buying several things from a stock site, it is inconvenient for them to stop what they are doing, come over to my site and buy there. And my own shop isn´t open yet..still waiting for some endless paperwork to go ahead.

But in the future...yes, i do hope people buy directly from my site.

Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: topol on July 31, 2013, 16:43

I think these companies have too much to risk to cheat us. If a company were doing this, it's not something they could keep quiet for very long. It would be discovered somehow, through experiments like what the SAA was doing, or through an employee who blows the whistle. It would take too many people being in the know to pull this off, programmers, accountants, too many ways for a leak to happen.

And if a company were discovered to be cheating artists, they'd be dead in the water. No one would send their work there anymore.

Seems like too much of a risk to take to save a few bucks (or cents).

You are bit optimistic. The bigger the volume the easier it they can get away with it, and if you do catch them not reporting some sale, they can just claim it was a hickup, what you gonna do?
Title: Re: How do you know that agencies are being honest about sales?
Post by: tickstock on July 31, 2013, 16:58
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