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Archive Team: 500px - The 500 Easy Pieces

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In late June 2018, 500px will be shifting from the stock photography destination known as 500px Marketplace to offer a spectrum of premium and midstock-priced royalty-free imagery directly through two exclusive distributors: Getty Images (exclusive worldwide, except People’s Republic of China (PRC)) and Visual China Group (VCG), exclusive in PRC.

This is part of a strategic repositioning of 500px’s network of contributors and the licensable content they submit to 500px. These changes enable 500px to serve the needs of a broader cohort of visual media customers, and represent a significant revenue opportunity for the company and its contributors.

What is 500px?

500px is the leading social network for photographers to connect, improve, and share their best work. 500px’s stock photography products are licensed globally for advertising, print, web, corporate communications, and publishing use.

What is 500px Marketplace?

500px Marketplace is 500px’s royalty-free (RF) stock photography licensing platform, created in 2014 to meet customer demand for a broader range of content and prices. 500px Marketplace will cease direct sales and e-commerce operations in late June 2018.  

What is Licensing?

500px photographers can grant permission to certain individuals to use their photos for commercial or editorial purposes. At the time of upload, 500px photographers can choose to submit their photos for Licensing with 500px, via 500px’s royalty-free (RF) stock photography collection.

How is 500px connected to Getty Images and Visual China Group (VCG)?

VCG has been 500px’s exclusive distribution partner in China since July 2015 and recently acquired 100% of 500px shares. Getty Images is not only 500px’s exclusive distribution partner (as of July 1st, 2018), but also among the world’s leading creators and distributors of award-winning still imagery, video, music, and multimedia products, including other forms of premium digital content.

Getty Images and VCG both operate stock photography distribution platforms and will exclusively represent 500px throughout the world. Getty Images represents licensable 500px imagery worldwide except People’s Republic of China (PRC), while VCG will continue to be the exclusive distributor of licensable 500px imagery in the People’s Republic of China.

What’s happening to 500px Marketplace?

500px has recognized that Marketplace hasn’t performed as well in the stock photography space as hoped. As a result, we had to choose between investing resources in building on and further promoting 500px Marketplace, or considering a distribution-only model for 500px, a revenue model that has been growing in recent years. With significant brand loyalty, great customer bases, and very positive momentum as they continue to expand their reach within the stock photography industry, both Getty Images and VCG are the obvious choice to represent 500px exclusively, worldwide.

500px Marketplace will continue to operate until June 30th, 2018, as we transition licensable 500px images from 500px Marketplace to Getty Images and VCG.

How is distribution different than 500px Marketplace direct sales?

500px has operated a distribution channel since 2015 and the model does not change—only the distribution partners we’ll be working with going forward. The main difference between distribution and direct sales is the number of parties involved in the royalty split. 500px Marketplace licenses (essentially direct sales on the Marketplace platform) are split between two parties: the contributor and 500px. Meanwhile, a distribution-only revenue model means all transactions and sales will occur on Getty Images and/or VCG’s website and royalties will be shared by the distribution partner, contributor and 500px.

I’ve opted out of distribution—does this announcement apply to my photos?

Photos from photographers that have opted out of distribution are not delivered to Getty Images or VCG. For photographers that have opted out of distribution with 500px, June 30th, 2018 is the end of licensing their work through us. On that date, will officially close and no longer showcase licensable photos from contributors that have opted out of distribution.

Can I update my distribution opt-out settings?

If you’d like to update your distribution opt-out status and license your work through our strategic distribution partners Getty Images and VCG, please head over to your Distribution Settings, uncheck the box “I opt out of the global distribution network”, and save your changes.

I already license my work through Getty Images directly - won’t there be duplication?

We’ll be working with our partners at Getty Images to ensure photos from photographers that already have an established relationship with Getty Images, are not included in our deliveries.

How does this affect Creative Commons users and photographers?

All direct licensing features (pricing, shopping cart, comp downloads, etc..) will be removed from the platform, including the ability for contributors to choose a Creative Commons license during the photo upload process. We’ll also remove the ability for users to download photos with a Creative Commons license.

Is 500px providing a migration path for existing contributors who submit Creative Commons images?

The short answer is no. Our plan is to remove the ability to upload an image to 500px with a Creative Commons license. We’ll also be removing the functionality to download and search for Creative Commons images on our website.

Do you have another public copyright license that 500px photographers can use when they upload new photos?

500px does not offer another public copyright license option, however, if photographers are interested, they can choose the 500px License (royalty-free) at the time of upload. By choosing the royalty-free 500px License option, photographers will be submitting their images for potential licensing through the 500px collection, which means their images could be distributed through our newest global distribution partner, Getty Images, as well as VCG.

Can I still submit photos to 500px for licensing?

Yes, please do. Images submitted to 500px will be represented by our two exclusive distributors worldwide and known as the 500px collection. The 500px team will continue to source contributors and images to strengthen the 500px collection and recognize revenue growth. 

How will I know if a picture was chosen by Getty Images or VCG or both?

We're looking at a method to communicate that clearly. It's likely that during the first few months of the partnership we'll send out an email to contributors with a link to their image on Getty Images, if the image has been selected. We're also looking at a similar approach for VCG selections. In addition to this, photos that have been selected by Getty Images will have a "Buy a license" link on the photo detail page which will redirect users to the Getty Images website.

Will contributors still get feedback on submitted photos before they are selected by a partner? If so, how?

The 500px submission process will not change. We still inspect the images to be sure they're acceptable for licensing, before we submit them to Getty Images and VCG. You will receive feedback on your submissions in the same way you always have.

If a photo can be selected by both partners and a customer attempts to purchase an exclusive license, how will that be handled?

If a customer wants to license the image exclusively, Getty Images or VCG will communicate with 500px who will then contact the other partner and the contributor to confirm details. Similar to how it works today for any exclusive sale through our existing distribution partners.

Where will I be able to see pricing for my photos on Getty Images and VCG? 

Our partners reserve the right to control their own pricing. Getty Images pricing can be found on VCG's pricing does not display directly on their platform VCG's clients connect directly with their sales and customer service teams for pricing and purchasing. 

What does this mean for contributors to 500px Marketplace?

With Getty Images and VCG, we have two partners that control considerable market share in the stock photography industry. 500px is forecasting a higher inventory of licenses for contributors and more revenue overall. As with anything new, it will take time. Please bear with us. By late summer / early fall you’ll have the chance to sell your work to a whole new crowd of people and grow your licensing revenue through 500px’s exclusive distributors.

What royalties does content submitted for licensing through 500px pay?

500px photographer royalties remain the same: 30% for non-exclusive images submitted and 60% for exclusive images submitted.

What if I don’t want my images to be part of the 500px collection?

No obligation, but of course we’ll be disappointed if you don’t want to contribute to our collection. We think you’ll be missing out on a great opportunity to sell your images to a new audience, as well as be part of the dynamic and creative 500px contributor community. Fair warning: we’ll likely try to change your mind!  


Created on
July 1
Jason Scott

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