iStockphoto up Close, Is It Risky?
iStockphoto, a Canada-based, stock photo company, has attracted the attention of the stock photo industry by enabling users to cross two industry barriers: price and portfolio size.
Usually priced at $80-$400 for a one-month subscription, stock photography has traditionally been priced out of the reach of the casual user or even some publishers with shoestring budgets. With a price range of $0.50 to $1.50 per item, iStockphoto has undercut the pricing of most stock photo companies. Even some publishers just looking for a good deal have been lured by its low prices.
By not requiring contributing photographers to establish a portfolio of at least 10,000 to 20,000 images, as other sites do, iStockphoto also has created a forum for little-known photographers.
Like most stock photo companies, iStockphoto uses two primary online user agreements: Content License Agreement and Membership Agreement. (The company's Web site also references an Upload Agreement, which is similar to the Membership Agreement.)
Consider the Source
iStockphoto relies on photographer contributions for a large percentage of its content and acknowledges that it does not check the source of that content. As a result, potential liability for copyright and trademark infringement is passed on to anyone downloading the images through the user agreements.
So, it's important that users understand the legal implications of these agreements, if only to avoid the cost of complying with a cease and desist order. Here are the highlights:
Content License Agreement
- The license is perpetual, non-exclusive, and non-transferable. This means that while you can use downloaded contents for an indefinite period of time, so can anyone else who downloads the same content, provided he gets it from iStockphoto, not you.
- iStockphoto retains all intellectual property rights in downloaded content. This means that although you will own any "derivative work," essentially a creative work that incorporates the content, but is not "substantially similar" to the content, iStockphoto still owns the original downloaded content.