In a bold statement, 123RF shot themselves in the foot, in the eyes of many videographers, by asking them to effectively submit FREE work in return for donations.
Their Head of Content released the following statement:
…As some of you may know, we acquired Pixlr back in April 2017. With the acquisition of Pixlr, we move closer to our group’s vision to create a Creative Ecosystem that’s powered by design, creativity and constant technological innovation. Our aim is to help everyone (creatives, the-not-so creative and businesses) stay relevant and thrive together in this age of the creative economy.
We’re on the brink of yet another exciting project! We’d like to invite you to be a Founding Member Contributor and take part in its creation. With this new platform, we’d like to build a creative community that shares and provide their footage to be used under a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) licence.
What’s in it for you? :-
1. This platform will run on a donation basis.
a. Downloaders may donate any amount to you as an appreciation of your contribution to the community.
b. 100% of the proceeds will go to you.
2. As for now, our new site is still in the midst of development, however, we would like to register your interest in this project.
a. We aim to build video creation tools that everybody can use as part of the site’s unique offering and in the longer term, we will mix in some monetization ideas.
b. Of course, you’ll be a part of that too!
What is a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) License?
CC0 is the “no copyright reserved” option, which effectively means relinquishing all copyright and similar rights that you hold in a work and dedicating those rights to the public domain.
100% of donations
By relying on the goodwill of strangers you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment, in my opinion. If you’re serious about running a successful stock business, you’ll charge and charge high for quality work.
Is this the future of Stock?
I certainly hope not but it appears to be heading this way. I applaud 123RF for at least “thinking outside the box”, but I think they’ve made some serious strategic mistakes. When someone signs up to a stock agency, they’re predominately there to earn from their content, otherwise they’ll just upload it on social media for “likes”.
One thing is to devalue one’s premium work by offering it to a site that will license it under a subscription model. Another, is to license it for free, in exchange for hoping that the end-user will be generous enough to offer the artist a “contribution”. No thanks.
Which types of contributors may benefit?
If you’re just starting out and looking to gain some “exposure”, by all means try out this scheme with some technically inferior footage while you’re learning the ropes.
However, those who depend on selling their work for income or a living should stay far away from this horrible scheme. It’s just bad for the industry since clients will increasingly expect quality work for less and less, sometimes to the point when it’s free.
What you’re essentially doing is supporting an agency that will still find a way to earn from your free content by setting up ad revenue, free traffic, and some backlinks to their actual site to obtain paying customers.
Be aware next time an agency releases a statement with “exciting project” followed by “donations”.
More discussion on this topic in the MicrostockGroupForum dedicated thread.