iStockphoto Guarantees All Image, Video and Audio Files Up to $250,000

Yesterday, iStockphoto made an important announcement for designers and photographers. In an attempt to build trust with their customers who purchase royalty-free content, iStockphoto implemented a guarantee that all image, video and audio files purchased on the site will be guaranteed, such that iStock will cover all files for legal costs and damages up to $10,000.

However, purchasers who demand additional peace of mind may purchase greater coverage under the guarantee on a file-by-file basis at a price of 100 iStock credits. The credits vary in price/value depending on the bulk amount in which customers pre-purchase those credits. For example, a package of 12 credits will run $18 or $1.50 per credit; however, a package of 2000 credits will run $1900 or $0.95 per credit. As a result, this “insurance” can run anywhere between $95 and $150 out-of-pocket per file.

While that seems like a bit much to pay per file, companies running a national or global campaign probably wouldn’t mind a little more peace of mind. Just ask Virgin Mobile.  Designers working on or quoting these major campaigns should probably think about which ones to build this into their budgets or quotes.  When you think about the scale, it sounds like a pretty good deal on insurance.

What does it mean for photographers?  iStock has a history of being sticklers on trademark and copyright elements in submitted photos, as well as obtaining appropriate model releases.  iStock does a good job of covering its butt (and photographers’ butts too) when evaluating submitted files.  If a file is questionable as to whether there is a copyrightable or trademark element within, the safe thing to do is reject it.  While iStock uses a fine tooth comb in reviewing files, iStock is not your momma or your lawyer.  When submitting files to iStock, the artist makes some heavy representations and warranties as to his or her authority to submit the files for commercial use.

If iStock gets called on the carpet for a file, you can bet your $1.06 commission that iStock will be dragging the photographer along with them.  Just a little reminder to conduct your own, personal inspection of files for potentially troubling elements before clicking submit.

With the scary part out there now, I think this move by iStock can increase the marketability and visibility of stock photography as a valuable resource for bigger customers.

More reading on this topic from John Harrington and Thomas Hawk.

Also see the news release below.

iStockphoto News Release

CALGARY, Alberta–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Starting today, iStockphoto becomes the first micropayment royalty-free image, video and audio provider to legally guarantee all files in its collection – at no cost to the customer. iStock promises that files purchased and used in accordance with the iStock license will not breach any trademark, copyright or other intellectual property rights or rights of privacy. The iStock Legal Guarantee provides that, if a customer receives a claim, iStock will cover the customer’s legal costs and direct damages to a combined total of $10,000. iStock customers looking for additional peace of mind can also purchase an extension of the Legal Guarantee for 100 iStock credits, increasing iStock’s coverage for legal fees and direct damages up to a combined total of $250,000.

“Our first line of defense has always been – and continues to be – our rigorous inspection process,” said Kelly Thompson, Chief Operating Officer of iStockphoto. “The Legal Guarantee is simply an added layer of protection for our customers, many of whom are using microstock more than ever before.”

Guaranteed Multimedia Files — What it Means

The iStock Legal Guarantee provides added assurance for clients. From large advertising agencies and their clients to small businesses developing a website, presentation or blog, iStock is one of the safest and most affordable destinations for multimedia files.

Every file accepted into iStockphoto’s collection has undergone a meticulous examination. In addition to following some of the strictest quality standards in the industry, iStock’s seasoned team of inspectors goes to great lengths to ensure submissions follow the appropriate legal and ethical guidelines.

“There are certainly millions of images available on the Web, but most are not cleared for commercial usage. 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,” Thompson added.

As the microstock industry leader, iStock also keeps a technical wiki on copyright and trademark issues around the world, as it is not always obvious what is prohibited to shoot as stock, and the rules vary in nearly every country. Who knew, for example that certain stitching on jeans is protected by trademark? iStock knows.

About iStock

iStockphoto offers easy, affordable inspiration with millions of safe, royalty-free photos, illustrations, video, audio and Flash® files. Using the most accurate search in the business, customers download a file at least every second from a collection of more than five million files for business, marketing and personal projects. iStockphoto started in 2000, pioneering the micropayment photography business model, and has become one of the most successful and profitable user-generated content sites in the world. iStockphoto pays out approximately $1.2 million weekly in artist royalties. iStockphoto is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Getty Images.