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500px Exploiting Artists? The New Commercial Licensing Marketplace


500px just announced in a blog post yesterday that they will be starting a new project called Prime. What is Prime? According the blog post, Prime is a “convergence of the growing demand to be able to license the amazing photography on 500px and a growing demand for a way for our photographers to be paid for their work. Our vision is to fundamentally change the way photos are licensed. A big part of this is changing the way photo licensing companies work with photographers.”

The licensing starts at $250 which is a decent price. There is a lot lower rates on the internet. This can give photographers a chance to sell their work at a fair price to commercial buyers. $250 is just a starting price, so a much higher amount can be negotiated. In their own words, by starting in this price range they are bringing dignity to photographers and avoiding a race to the bottom (low prices for quality work.)

Sounds like a hell of a deal right? Well, here is a kick to the bajingle jangles. 500px is taking 70% of the sale price of the licensing for YOUR image. Yes, that means you only get 30%. For some people 30% may be a great amount. However, I feel the 70/30 split does not bring any sort of “dignity” to a photographer and is more of a slap to the face. I feel like they are using the fact that a lot photographers do not have the capability to go out and find buyers for the licensing of their work and so they will reluctantly accept. I am pretty disappointed to see this. It should be the other way around, 70% to the photographer and 30% to 500px. I understand that their are fees involved, but it is nothing near 70% of the sale price.

Offering 30% to photographers puts them right on the level of the ever so greedy Getty Images who offer 20-30% to photographers. One commenter, Beno Saradzi, mentioned “Artist Exploitation.” Is all of the hard work, passion, financial costs, time, dignity worth only 30%?

Like I said, for some people this very well could be something they desperately need. If you want to find your work in the commercial sector but do not have the time or upfront money for licensing, then this is a great opportunity if you are willing to accept 30%.  500px does have the ability and power to implement a commercial licensing marketplace with great success and functionality. 500px is asking that those who would like to join 500px Prime to email primephotographers@500px.com.

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