iStockphoto founder launches Stocksy, an artist-owned stock photo service

Bruce Livingstone, founder of iStockphoto (which has since been acquired by Getty Images), has launched Stocksy, an artist-owned stock photography co-operative. Under its licensing terms, photographers receive 50% of each royalty transaction. Each photographer also receives equity and is entitled to a share of the co-operative’s annual profits. This launch comes hot on the heels of a recent controversial deal between popular stock photo service Getty Images and Google, in which Google Drive’s image vault gives public access to over 5000 Getty images with very little compensation to the photographers.

Photographer and popular photo blogger Thomas Hawk is one of the first to sign up with Stocksy after being frustrated with Getty’s terms. He wrote an open letter to Getty about why he quit its service and switched over to Stocksy. You can read it in his blog post.

Press Release:


Newest Venture From iStockphoto Founder Offers Creators Higher Royalties, Unprecedented Control, Ownership in Sustainable Marketplace

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA (March 25, 2013) — Stocksy, a digital licensing co-op launching March 25, 2013, is a new concept in the world of stock photography: An online marketplace owned collectively by its photographer-members and dedicated to paying them the maximum fees possible for their work.

Founded by Bruce Livingstone, who invented microstock with iStockphoto—which he sold to Getty Images in 2006 —Stocksy was built out of his experience shaping the ground floor of the sector. Stocksy is a cooperative designed to respect the work of the artist and whose very system of shared ownership and profit sharing allows for real, sustainable careers for all participants in the marketplace.

Under its revolutionary model, photographers will receive a 50% royalty on each transaction and 100% on extended licenses; what’s more, 90% of all profits will be divided among members at year’s end. Photographers who are accepted into the co-op also receive equity and have a real say in how the business is operated.

The Stocksy team. Founder Bruce Livingstone is the second guy standing from the right (with the tattooed-arm)

‘We wanted to create a marketplace for photographers that was not only democratic, but fair and sustainable,’ Livingstone says. ‘There’s no reason these artists shouldn’t be able to earn a living from what they produce. We believe that through this equitable, participatory structure and a straightforward, transparent compensation system – combined with the knowledge of the marketplace we bring to the table – Stocksy will quickly amass the finest pool of photographic content on the Web.’

The Canadian-born Livingstone followed several divergent paths – including theology studies at the University of Calgary and drumming in punk-rock band The Bittermen – before starting iStockphoto in 2000. Initially it was a free service, but growing traffic required him to begin charging small, incremental fees to cover bandwidth costs; thus was microstock licensing born.

When Getty acquired iStockphoto, it also acquired him. But Livingstone saw that the democratization that iStockPhoto brought to the marketplace didn’t go far enough. More innovation was required to bring fairness into the equation.

The conception of Stocksy brings Livingstone full circle to the dawning days of iStockphoto – but this time, substantive royalties and member ownership are built into its design. ‘Photographers have never had this level of participation and control in the stock world,’ he says. ‘We believe Stocksy represents an opportunity to change the industry permanently – and for the better.’



Sounds fantastic and I wish them well. I just hope this time money is no object and he won’t sell out to the highest bidder… again. Time will tell.


Sounds like Pond5 with stronger curation and a stake in the company for contributors. Good luck, more options is always better.

Ulfric M Douglas

Surely when he sold his company they got him to sign an agreement to NOT compete with them with a new business?
Anyway, TWO founders (count them) with huge foreheads is a great start!
I would certainly join this thing if that was my thing.


Bruce sold it a number of years ago and the non-compete agreement has expired. Which isn’t to say Getty isn’t taking it’s pound of flesh. They have cancelled the iStock accounts of at least two contributors. One was a former iStock employee who’s non-compete had also expired. More significantly was Sean Locke who has sold around 1 million images on iStock and had done little more than complain about Getty’s practices re Google Drive and be loosely involved the FB group associated with Stocksy. Here is his blog post about it.


Can’t find the “Content License Agreement”, the “Standard pricing and payment policies” and there’s a note that says ” [NTD: This will have to be prepared.]”.

Still not fully mature yet, it seems.

As an amateur interested in getting a little money to fund lenses, with as little fuss as possible, and if it doesn’t work out who cares, I’m quite interested.


Many seasoned stock shooters with multi-thousand image portfolios at other stock sites have been turned away already. They have a “look” and production quality they are striving for and the bar is very high. If you want to cut your teeth on stock and earn some lens money you’re better off building the skills and a portfolio and somewhere like Shutterstock or Dreamstime and then applying to Stocksy. You could try iStockphoto as well, but be warned Getty is trying it’s best to give you nothing (or as little as possible) and take all your work. Look into the Google Drive deal referenced above if you want to see what I mean.

Paul B Jones

Fantastic! It’s the Mountain Equipment Co-op of stock photography. I got a form letter on Flickr from Getty asking me to sign up with them. No way. But Stocksy’s kind of worker self-management is the way of the future (and clearly threatening to some of you folks).


“Stocksy’s kind of worker self-management is the way of the future.” Agreed. This does have potential to change the industry. Self-owned businesses provide more job satisfaction and out-perform public corporations that live for quarterly earnings per share. This venture holds out the promise of giving artists a fair deal long-term, not only in its start-up phase. Kudos to Livingstone.

Cy Cheze

Participants entitled to a share of annual profits? Are there any? How are the shares apportioned? Perhaps this way: A) person submits one fabulous photo that reaps $100k in royalties and gets X% of zero profits; B) person submits 100k photos that get no royalties and gets the 0% of zero profits; and C) person who submits no photos but, as entrepreneur, eventually sells the company and does very well. Kudos to “C.” Ingenious.


no RM license :((
No place for a serious photographer.
Emil Pozar,


And they are not alone . . . Shutterstock is heading straight at Getty’s traditional market too when their premium “marketplace”,, lanuches soon.

Bout time someone gave it back to Getty and their corporate bully-boys. Hopefully those services who treat their contributors with at least some form of respect will eventually rise to the top.


Lol…Beards, tattoos, the word “sustainable”, pictures tagged “Portland, Oregon” and former musicians who weren’t good enough to make it in music so they defaulted to photography. Wow…How many times can you say “Hipster”?


What are you saying? Are you discriminating against people based on their look or musical ability?

The guy started a company from scratch that sold for $50 million. He started it as a free service. He started another company to nurture artists.

You claim to fame is you don’t like failed musicians or “hipsters”.

Paul B Jones

Congratulations on your first DPReview post. Coincidence or conundrum?


You have something against Portland Oregon?


Calling someone “hipster” is discriminating?
Since WHEN?!


I used “hipster” discriminatingly before it was cool.

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