As discussed in extensive detail on Metue earlier this month, microstock is growing phenomena in the stock photo industry that takes advantage of user-generated content to create a pool of inexpensive images available for royalty-free license. As a photographer, microstock services allow me to post my images and allow their use on websites, in product literature and elsewhere (even earning me, the amateur photographer, revenue). As a web developer, through microstock, I can license images (non-exclusively) for display on Metue, or other sites.
The Corbis’ effort, which was developed in house, and has been anticipated for some time, will differ from the competition in that it twill allow image owners to set their own pricing schedules (from $1 to $50) rather than abide by preset flat rates (which are usually determined by size or usage).
The Corbis service is also distinct in that it is geared not just towards creating an exchange for the resale of content, but also as something of a talent scout to help Corbis find photographers with skills or portfolios worth including into their higher value agency business. (A majority of Corbis’ revenue comes from images sold at higher prices.)
While microstock is a relatively small component of the image service industry today, it is growing rapidly. There is a fear and a real threat that its lower price images will cannibalize some share of existing business lines. Already, arguably in anticipation of that threat, industry powerhouse Getty Images (which previously bought microstock agency iStockphoto) has been busy expanding its assets and services and diversifying into video and audio – most recently buying commercial audio exchange Pump Audio.