While it hides behind the “credibility” of being part of Getty Images, iStock manages to raise the ire of photographers (and clients) more than any other stock photo agency in the business and their abuses of both are frequently in the news.
I’ve been seeing the latest pop up in the forums and now it has made headlines in PetaPixel about how 9000 contributors have been informed they were “overpaid” and have to pay iStock back! What PetaPixel missed in their article is how frequently this occurs over at iStock. I have seen numerous threads over the years on the forums about iStock chargebacks to contributors due to “miscalculation” or supposed credit card fraud…
In this last instance, iStock should have sucked it up and eaten the loss… if there really was one at all. Instead they pushed the liability for their incompetence down to their contributors one to many times and now have a PR nightmare on their hands.
It doesn’t matter how you look at it. The best thing that can be said here is that iStock is incapable of accurate bookkeeping… which of course also says that most likely there are a similar amount of “mistakes” being made in calculating just how much a contributor is earning in the contributors favor as well. This is if 9000 photographers were overpaid, how many were underpaid?
iStock started the race to the bottom with their images for pennies business model that pulled the rug out from the stock photo industry. Apparently they didn’t just choke photographers when they built the express elevator to the bottom… they also choked themselves and are constantly on the lookout for more ways to gouge photographers.
While the overall abuse is typical in large sectors of the stock photo industry, iStock leads the pack for abuses. It is seriously time for photographers to back up and take a look at things. What do any of these agencies have of value? YOUR images. Why enable them to abuse you? Delete your account and move your images to Photoshelter where you can charge a fair price and keep the majority of the earnings!