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Messages - joebenning

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All this business about evil Shutterstock is getting silly. The fact is that the supply of photos available for download has increased by a significant amount. The demand for those photos has not increased at anything approaching the magnitude of the supply increase. When supply increases faster than demand the price drops--hence the reduction in artist commissions. To the degree that some artists drop out because it isn't worth their time at the new price level, well that is simply the mirror image of Shutterstock's commission cuts.

That's how prices are discovered in the market place and how an equilibrium point is reached. It has nothing to do with greed, or the black hats versus the white hats or any of that stuff. It is just supply and demand; thing more, nothing less.

To the degree that other players think that they can attract better returns by offering higher commissions to artists, perhaps for higher quality photos and a more exclusive customer base, they will do so. That's how competitive markets work.

Joe Benning

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Stock agencies decide what they are willing to accept based on their assessment of the risk of potential legal action, particularly insofar as they may suffer reputational as well as monetary damage. The media buyers try to push the risk back onto the stock agencies. So the stock agencies try to protect themselves. Some agencies try to push the risk back onto the contributors. (Take a look at the indemnity agreement at 123RF on this score.)

The stock agencies take a defensive position by restricting what they will accept. It isnt only stock agencies, it happens across all kinds of industriesfor instance drug companies are sometimes held legally accountable when a doctor prescribes a drug for a use that is not officially sanctioned by the FDA.  The there is the know or should have known standard. This whole thing is not so much a question of right and wrong as it is a question of acceptable legal risk. And the sue at the drop of a hat legal culture.

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