Fair trade for the creator, for the distributor and the customer

May 22. 2013

ByKlaus PlaumannCepic Commitee statement to Dreamstimes new offer on free images on Jim Pickerell (Selling Stock) published Serbans opinion and his arguments why he wants to give away a large part of Dreamstime images for free.

Serban Enache, CEO and founder of Dreamstime, is offering nearly 1 million free images on the website, owned by Dreamstime:

There's no doubt that there is a strong need for free content in 
today's advertising market, Enache said. While some people can't 
 afford to pay for content; others don't want to pay, even though they 
still need specific images. It has become an unfortunate habit for 
 many consumers to use a search engine to download a free image, often 
 infringing someone's copyright, and putting themselves in jeopardy. 
 With, users can have peace of mind that any image 
 they download is not only free and safe, but also is legal.
Jim Pickerell answered Serban I think many creators (like Dreamstime contributors) would like to receive a little economic remuneration from those who use their images as evidence that the images have some value.

The Cepic Commitee discussed about this and decided to publish their opinion, that reflects says what most of us think.

“Serban´s "free" model would not educate anybody in fact quite the opposite and everybody will continue trying to find free images whether copyrighted or not copyrighted and steal them no matter where they find them, that's the opinion of Alfonso Gutierrez, CEO of agefotostock. He continues:

Cheap prices have devaluated photography to unimaginable levels in just a few years ago and has demoralized professional photographers....I think that the only way to maintain the value of photography is to produce high quality stuff that could attract clients attention because it is unique, innovative, creative and experimental and while it is not copied by someone it maintains a more than decent price. agefotostock maintains the same principles, shooting the best images we can and try to sell them for the best possible price. No matter how much we dislike people getting content for free, this a trend that exists and needs to be addressed wisely.

Pieter Doormann, Image Select:
There are some understandable arguments in what Serban is saying but the remedy is wrong. A lot of people are unaware and grabbing free content is unfortunately a trend that is difficult to turn around. I’m at least happy that Dreamstime dislikes giving images for free. There might be other companies soon that totally focus their core business on giving away images and then we
have a bigger problem on our hands.It confuses the users, at some website they can get images for free, from other websites they need to pay.
I think that it could be worthwhile that CEPIC initiates a stakeholder meeting in order to discuss the issue about how to educate the image users and have some clear business models.

Stefan Wittwer, Prisma,:
A proverb says: There is no such thing as a free lunch. In professional photography there is no such thing as a free image. Free websites try to generate a lot of traffic that allows them to generate money with ads or help them to sell the website with a large data base of email addresses etc.. The kingpin in this game, the photographer, is left out in the cold, he may get plenty of “likes”, but at the end of the day commercial users of free images are double-crossing him.
Cepic must support a business model that is fair trade for the creator, for the distributor and the customer. Free trade in a professional environment can never be fair trade.

More and more people are downloading images from agencies websites, stealing pictures that photographers have created to earn money with. The agencies as distributors support the photographers, spend money for marketing, offer global contacts for distribution, take care of images by offering the content to a huge amount of customers and share the income with photographers. The business is getting harder every day because the number of pictures is growing faster than ever before. The competition today between the huge market leaders and the average and small companies is a tough business. Giving photos away free, users don`t want to spend money for a picture that people worked for is an idea that we can`t agree to.

Christina Vaughan, CEPIC’s President and Image Source, comments that in giving away almost 1 million images for free makes an unhealthy statement on the value of photography. What dismays me is that while we all know that “free” can drive traffic to websites, no one has yet been able to prove that the “free” acquirer of imagery can be upsold to become a paying licensor of imagery. Whilst a stock agency may benefit from the increase in visitors to a site, the content creators receive no benefit – either from licensing fees or a remuneration for building the agency’s traffic. If we want to rebuild our industry post the global recession, then we need to understand that our ecosystem requires us to reward the content creator – the photographer. If we don’t, how can we ever expect them to reinvest in quality?

The Commitee is interested in getting comments from all the readers of our Cepic blog. Just let us know what you think about giving pictures away for free - we will publish it right here.

In addition, don't forget to attend the CEPIC Congress where these issues and more will be hotly debated in our photocentric day. Click here to register.

Klaus Plaumann
Vice President - CEPIC



Dreamstime statement

>> There's no doubt that there is a strong need for free content in 
today's advertising market, Enache said. <<

I couldn't agree less.
There is a need for free air to breath, and in some countries, there might be a need for free water and free food.
But there is certainly no NEED for FREE content in today's ADVERTISING MARKET. If you want to advertise, PAY the creator of the content you'd like to use!
When one person (or business) WANTS to use free content - that doesn't mean another person has to deliver it at his own expense.

Free photos

I'm perfectly happy to give my photos away for free....


- Daimler gives me a car for free (well, Volkswagen would do for me)
- Deutsche Bank pays my mortgage
- Calvin Klein gives me some under pants for free

oh, and if the baker next door gives me some bread for free. And some red wine fo free would also be appreciated.

I wonder if Serban would ever

I wonder if Serban would ever consider taking a job for no pay. What would he say if a head hunter offered him a high profile position in a company in exchange for "likes" to his facebook page?

Free Images

It wont be long before photographers have to pay to give there photos away.

2009 average photo $100
2010 average phot0 $50
2011 average photo $10
2012 average photo $1
2013 average photo Free
2014 average photo -$1

There are some very greedy short sighted agency bosses out there that don't care about photography or photographers one little bit.
Why would you when you sleep well at night in a mansion built by us.

Converting fraudulent usage into paying customers

Since early April StockFreeImages is no longer a free database, it is a freemium platform that pays contributing photographers using a subscription model for high-res downloads. Users receive 10 free files in the beginning for free with a very restrictive license. Afterwards they are required to purchase a payment plan in order to continue to download. All high-res downloads provide royalties to contributing photographers. They do have access to the free low-res (480px) images too but only while they have an active commercial plan. Freebies have a restrictive limit (10,000 copies).
Also, Dreamstime's commercial content is being promoted and we're happy to report a growing rate of conversion.

These people are in most cases new users to stock photography who go to Google Images or other engines to download content for free. They get that content for nothing and in high res. Search Google Images after your agency brand to see how many files are indexed from customers' sites. These files show up for regular keywords too, not just when searched after your brand. We found out a staggering rate of visitors think Google researched before and if an image has no watermark then it can be freely used.

How many of you are aware that this practice might lead to more free high-res downloads than the whole stock photography industry is licensing?
See here examples:
more about this here:

SFI converts this audience into paying customers.
It's using obsolete content that would otherwise be deleted from our database, files that are more than 4 years old with no downloads.

Klaus' article above and most additional comments are referring to paying customers being downgraded but this is not our goal. We expect to turn fraudulent usage into paying customers not viceversa, this being the reason why the platform was migrated from Dreamstime. It avoids any errosion with our own customers.

As a last note, this is a model that evolves and is being upgraded and monitored. While we all hope to sell premium content for premium prices in reality the market is being commoditized. Dreamstime has a long record of being fair to its contributors and it remains the only top agency that pays 60% to its exclusives. We are concerned about the market trends just as all of you are.