jeff gardner.

Things just got a little more interesting...

Licensing images for the internet has always been a gray area. As the Bohemian says, “it has always been the industry standard to price an image based on how many people would see it”, and this is valid. Think about a small image on the back page of a local newspaper. Now think of the cover of the NY Times, to be reprinted for many countries all around the world. The number of eyes feasting on your image would be slightly different wouldn’t it? Now think about websites, until relatively recently it was difficult to track the actual traffic of a site, even more difficult to track (accurately) the number of views an image received. So it has always been a difficult thing to price. How much is an image on the homepage of a website worth?

One company has now decided to take matters into their own hands. In the spirit of Google PPC ads, GumGum is allowing content providers (photographers like you and me) to upload images to their servers. Content users (the online sites of newspapers and magazines, blogs and corporate giants) can search this database of images, decided what they like and then license the content on a per-view basis. No views, no charge. Providers can set the CPM rate (it looks as it $ .20 is the norm so far) and get paid by how much their image is actually getting used.

I’m skeptical. It sounds like a very big idea, and I may prove to look the idiot but here are my qualms.

First, Similar to Google ads, providers have no say where their images are used. This may not be such a big deal, you say, until your images land on a site advertising something you are very against. Like a pro/anti abortion site. Or on the website of the political party you oppose. Or worse yet, on the homepage of the KKK. I would be surprised if anything remotely this sinister was going on, but it is worth considering.

Second, Does a service like this lower the actual value of images? Is this just an extension of the micro-stock phenomenon? Let’s delve into the numbers for a moment. CPM means “cost per thousand” (M is the roman numeral for one thousand). So for an image placed on a page that receives 100,000 page views the photographer gets a measly $20. It may not be “rights free for a dollar” like much of the micro-stock world ,but it isn’t far off. And where is GumGum’s cut? They aren’t very clear about that either. I’ve emailed GumGum to try and get a few answers, I’ll update if they decide that I’m worth getting back to.

Anyone out there jumping at the chance to upload on GumGum? Anyone just want to go back to the old days where people paid for good photography and didn’t think it was something that should be free?

Tagged: images, gumgum, license, rights, copyright, business, and photography news
14 February 2008

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