Alamy considering legal action against Spiderpic

Updated 01 Feb

We asked Spiderpic  for a reaction and they sent us the following email:

“Our top commitment is to assist media buyers make the best purchase decision. Price transparency is an unavoidable stage in any e-commerce product in the 2010’s, any attempt to delay it is a waste of time. We mention in our site, that license differences do exist and leave a link to each source’s detailed terms so buyers can make educated decisions. We welcome any fair attempt of any sources to further clarify their license terms in a way that would facilitate better buyers’ decisions rather than confusing them.”

Spiderpic has removed the Alamy  images from the comparison site

Original article:

Alamy is not amused by the price comparison site Spiderpic. The site shows big price differences on the same images with some particularly high prices on Alamy. It appears the comparison is not as easy as it seems as different license restrictions and file sizes makes comparing ‘apples with apples’ difficult.

We reported on the microstock comparison site Spiderpic before, Paul Melcher commented on it and other sites like Techcrunch and photobusinessnews have picked up on the company that promises to compare pricing of the same images on different sites. While the service is mainly targeted at Microstock companies it also compares prices of a non-microstock company, Alamy and at first glance the price differences are staggering. One image is quoted as costing $8 on Fotolia and as much as $365 on Alamy. Another one has as much as $350 between the lowest and the highest (Alamy) price as well.

Alamy has picked up on this and is clearly not amused by the examples. A spokesperson said the company is considering legal action, as these numbers are not comparing similar licenses.

 This is the disclaimer Spiderpic published on the example page:

NOTICE:(1) The prices shown on this page are calculated according to the lowest amount of purchasable credits in a specific provider, and does not reflect special pricing, subscriptions, sales, seasonal changes and any price variance which can occur on the provider website due to any reason. (2) The comparison shows the price ranges between the available sizes and licenses of a specific agency for a specific photo and does not compare the license itself between the providers. To view the license available for a specific image from a specific provider, please either (a) click on the image to go to the source site (b) click on the ‘License’ field link to see the license description on the source site. (3) The prices shown for CanStockPhoto are for registered CSP users, who automatically get 50% off of photo prices upon free registration.

Upon closer examination there may be a number of other caveats in the data that need to be clarified further. All of these have to do with the type of rights that come with the various licenses. It appears that due to the complexity of restrictions and inclusions on the various sites a comparison is more complex than it appears at first. We were pointed to the following examples:

(Alamy ref: AHKO6G): The Fotolia price is quoted as $20for a 5062 x 3361 file with the following restrictions: Excludes items for resale e.g. consumer products / Limited to single seat licence / Excludes print on demand/template sites. When comparing this to the Alamy license (that includes the exceptions above) the numbers change and the price compares as follows:

  • Fotolia $200,- (Extended license without the above restrictions)
  • Alamy $365 (as they have the rights included as standard)

Alamy ref: B761FN:The iStockphoto price is quoted as $15 for a 3872 x 2360 file with the following restrictions: Excludes items for resale e.g. consumer products / Limited to single seat licence / Excludes print on demand and template sites / Print run limited to 500k. The comparison looks different when taking these exclusions into consideration:

  • iStockphoto $385 with 1 seat licence / $460 with unlimited seat licences.
  • Alamy $365

There are also some different file sizes at play that would have an impact on price. The Alamy price is shown as  $365 for 5198 x 3228 and is compared to an iStockphoto image at $15 for 3872 x 2360

Now clients may not want to reduce the restrictions and when they don’t, they will be able to buy the images at the low price quoted. Perhaps there is an opportunity for Alamy to adopt these ‘skinnier’ licenses as well to get into the same price range. While the differences may lead to an interesting debate on what to include in a license, Alamy is not happy with the comparison as it stands and is considering legal action.

Marco | Editor

Editor at large and founder of a bunch of stockphoto businesses

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