UK newspaper subscription schemes

Firstly, I am not an Alamy contributor.  But I am an ex-Getty contributor even though for 12 months under the terms of a takeover deal.

The concept of the Premium Access Agreement is that the client can download images and use them 'across all media and industries' usually for up to 10 years. That would include all internet podcasts, etc use and any future usage yet to be invented. The return to the photographer i.e. my sales under these deals amounted to roughly $1.20 / per image gross which was further split 50/50 or 70/30 to Getty depending on the territory. A very low price for my material which included a few dead people whom you cannot resurrect and shoot again and lots of exclusives. This cheapened my images, my work - and my income went from roughly GBP 2000/month down to GBP 200/month.

Should Alamy consider a similar licencing arrangement as the Premium Access Agreement, there will be reducing returns over the years because the clients have the images for up to 10 years across all media and industries. So, a print publisher could become an internet publisher and your images will migrate to the new company - no further payment for usage. Only the choice images will be taken and it is entirely possible that images may be downloaded and stored for future use just so that the publications can have their own database of imagery all at your expense.

My belief is that this is their agenda, and allowing unlimited downloads helps the publishers to achieve that goal. At which point, they will move onto another agency and strip them of their assets while pleading poverty all the time. Right now, I continue to see my images on websites and in print and I cannot get a penny for their usage because they were supplied under the Premium Access Agreement. Do not for one moment think that the publishers are benevolent organisations.

If publishers consolidate, buy out other publications, and this is something which happens during a downturn, the downloaded images will be used in the new publications and we will get to the point where we are at the moment where there is a shrinking number of publications unwilling to pay for images because they already have access to a large database of images and can get more for next to nothing under various 'subscription deals with agencies. Who profits from these deals? Well the publishers and agencies do (especially if they own their content). Do the maths: publisher A pays 5000 to Agency A for unlimited downloads (or limited) each month, the agency immediately gets 50% or 40% of that and the rest is divided up amongst the photographers. If on a download basis, you are definitely going to see very small amounts being paid out to the photographers.

Now multiply the agency's 2500 or 2000 across 20 publishers and the agency will earn, guaranteed amounts under the deals, 50,000 or 40,000 each month, conservatively! That is before they pay any photographer a cent. No wonder the agency is pushing for this deal or is it a fait accompli ? We'd all like regular guaranteed income, but do not believe that the agencies are benevolent organisations working on your behalf. Of course they want to guarantee their income and salaries, it is your content which provides the basis on which it can be done. But it also smacks of fattening up the company for a sell-out or a takeover.

Today it's the newspapers and tomorrow it will be the magazines and the next day it will be other organisations all on subscription deals providing a bigger and larger guaranteed income for the agency. A business model where you give away 50-60 percent of your turnover is not a good one in today's world of the 'big' agency. The percentages the agency takes will probably go up as they will also plead poverty to their contributors.

And when the bods in the agency want to literally sail off into the sunset, they will sell up and leave you to pick up the mess and sort out what you will do with your thousands of images, for which there will be very little demand, because they have given them away already.

I am posting this also on EPUK, just in case it is censored as I am not an Alamy contributor.

George Chin

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