Creatives Stunning Revolt Against Big Bad Business

© GL Stock Images

The usual rhetoric of creatives complaining about clients and the treatment of creative content providers has exploded into a full, organized revolt against the largest stock image source and it looks like a blow for freedom that rivals the American Revolution. For all the creative organizations that have tried over the years, using the might of their numbers, it seems a few people with the help of the internet were able to organize a revolt that will send an expensive message to a company that thought it could do whatever it pleased at the expense of those who supply it with the content it needs to make millions of dollars of income. It seems the image provider made a deal that didn’t sit well with the owners of the images. It’s been done before and while contributors complained, no one dared fight back… at least not in any organized numbers and those who held the purse strings didn’t so much as break a sweat while giving away the livelihoods of numerous contributors who support their very business.

Not the First Time

Just two years ago, this very provider penned a partnership with Get Response, who excitedly announced that 1,000+ images were available for FREE to Get Response users. To those who owned these images, now to be given away, the words of a cherubic blogger for Get Response was as sickening as her pumped up drivel, using creative bodies as stepping stones in a murky, muddy swamp of fecal-strewn urine pools.

“You know that great design and graphics can boost newsletter readability and response rates, right? So, a few weeks ago, we thought “Let’s create a huge library of the best photos and images and make it even easier to create good looking newsletters – AND make it FREE for all GetResponse customers.” It was a no brainer. After a few weeks of hard work, we are soooo excited to introduce the new GetResponse Image Gallery, where you’ll find 1000+ email-ready, high-quality pics and graphics, organized into 23 popular categories for easy access right from your Multimedia account. And they’re completely free, courtesy of our new online image partner X. Imagine how much time and money you can save NOT looking for images online or working with designers you can’t afford! For that matter, web designers can benefit as well. You can design your client’s deliverables quickly and cost-effectively, and that’s good for business.”

Yes! Why work with designers you can’t afford when your budget is zero because your new car was expensive? Or save time by not legally licensing images so you can go bar hopping? The “no brainer” was the person who said, “let’s just give away images and tell our contributors to shut up and take it!” Naturally, creatives who saw no other effective response, did shut up and take it, as they did in 2007 when a similar deal was struck with Microsoft, but, as history shows us, eventually people sicken of shutting up and taking more abuse.  Unfortunately, there will be no nooses, guillotines or firing squads this time.

Google Drive(s) Contributors into Frenzy

The “news” of the latest “deal” was announced to all 425 million active members on the Google Drive blog on a December 6th, 2012 post.

5,000 new stock images in Google Drive, thanks to you A few months ago, many of you submitted ideas on how we can expand the selection of stock images in Google Drive to add to the categories that you’re most interested in.  Thanks to your suggestions, 5,000 new photos of nature, weather, animals, sports, food, education, technology, music and 8 other categories are now available for your use in Docs, Sheets, and Slides. More than 900 of these photos were selected directly from your submissions – we really appreciate your help!

Then, someone asked the question:

“How and where were the 4,100 other pictures acquired? Were and are they being paid for when they are used? I create image content for sale and would hate (and be hurt to know) that my images (or my colleagues’) are being thrown out for free after much hard work and investments in producing them. And to believe that this is being done only because these works are available in electronic format.”

Another person responded:

“A lot of these images that are being given away for free sell for $80-$300 on a stock site where they were taken from and the photographers are not being compensated for all the free downloads.”

And then there was this post that offered some uneasy clarity:

“Should I be offended that none of my images are part of this program, or should I be relieved? No question: relieved is the right answer. As best I can determine, none of the creators of these images were asked to participate in a program that paid them peanuts (a one time payment of $12) and gives away their work hundreds of thousands of times.  This is a great deal for Google and its users and a complete disaster for the photographers who participate against their will. Yeah, I’m relieved.”

Oddly enough, it was on the image provider’s own chat boards where the newest slap in the face for their contributors was announced and the word was spread… 27 pages worth of posts and angry replies. The thread has been locked but not removed. Among the accusations and threats of legal actions, the company tried to stem the bad public relations as well as the anger from the contributors with a simple “We’ll get back to you on this”. True to their word, an attorney with the firm posted a reply on their blog for all to see. The response is lengthy, so read it here. Then, if you can stomach it, read the 33 pages of responses. Contributors are not happy and strongly saying so.

© GL Stock Images


To Arms, To Arms!

“D-Day” (Deactivation Day) is set for February 2nd and a growing number of contributors are pledging to deactivate their portfolios or pull large numbers of images until the one million image mark is met. A thread on has received pledges within the first 48 hours to remove just over 12,000 images with, undoubtedly more to come. Although this little disagreement only surfaced a few days ago, press is starting to increase. Expect more creatives to feel enough is enough and join in the D-Day protest. The number of deleted images will climb. There are, of course, many other stock sites that have and always will respect the rights and partnership with their contributors and while this protest may not reach the one million target, it is already enough to make all stock image sites take notice. Perhaps they did pay attention in high school history class and the lesson of a handful of farmers who fired the shot heard around the world, eventually winning freedom from tyranny, beating the largest and most powerful army in the world. So, photographers… don’t “shoot” until you see the whites of their eyes and to illustrators, let this be where the line is “drawn.” To designers, are you the “type” to stand firm with other creatives who have always partnered with you to build strong designs when all is said and done? Not enough to stir you to action? Try a little Shakespeare…

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