iStockphoto Becomes the First Major Microstock Photography Agency to Legally Guarantee All Imagery
iStockphoto will announce tomorrow an interesting new twist to their stock photography offerings. Beginning tomorrow, all purchases at the microstock agency (including photos, videos, illustrations and audio) will be guaranteed up to $10,000 in damages at no additional cost to the image buyer.
iStockphoto is also announcing a program where image buyers can pay 100 “credits” ($95-$150 depending on number bought) to get additional protection on photos up to $250,000 in damages. “There are certainly millions of images available on the Web, but most are not cleared for commercial usage,” said iStockphoto Chief Operating Officer Kelly Thompson. “Creative Commons images can be perfect for some projects, but there are little to no formal inspections on those files, so iStock offers a much safer and suitable alternative when using multimedia.”
What many people do not know is that they when they buy and use an image for commercial purposes, the majority of the liability over any unauthorized use is with the publisher of the image. This means that even if you buy an image from a stock photography website that you are not exempt from a possible lawsuit if it somehow turns out that the image wasn’t actually authorized for sale by the creator.
Although misrepresentations are rare, they can happen (and have happened even at iStockphoto in the past), but this new immediate and automatic protection from iStockphoto means that, at least in terms of smaller claims, you’ll have more automatic protection.
What makes unauthorized photo usage even more costly, is that generally speaking an image creator can sue for even more than just damages if the infringement is considered “willful.” By offering this protection, iStockphoto gives you peace of mind at least on the first $10,000 which would likely cover most small business usage claims.
In addition to the insurance coverage, iStockphoto’s submission process involves scrutiny by iStockphoto professionals as to legal rights issues with photographs as well. According to Thompson this is their first line of defense. ““Our first line of defense has always been – and continues to be – our rigorous inspection process,” said Thompson. “The Legal Guarantee is simply an added layer of protection for our customers, many of whom are using microstock more than ever before.”
An exact determination into what kind of clearance an image might need is not always easy. Some cases involving models are pretty straightforward and need model releases. But other cases (often involving property releases) can be a bit trickier to navigate. iStockphoto also maintains a wiki where they discuss some of this less clear cut issues.
iStockphoto is a wholly owned subsidiary of Getty Images.