The Long Lens blog: Photography with added snaps

The photography site for sore eyes. With extra writing because I'm also a writer.

Novel Use = Nominal Payment. Alamy’s low fee system

It was six years ago when I signed up with Alamy, the stock photography website.

I remember not too long afterwards it passed the 10million figure for images available to buy. If you’re reading this anytime after April 2013 Alamy will have passed the 40million mark).

Shortly after signing up I sold a photo, of a black pug to be used on the cover of a 1,000 print-run calendar in Japan, for just over $600 USD.

One of the most recent images I have sold – shown here – was sold under the Novel Use scheme. For $1 USD.

Alamy markets itself on its great rates for photographers – it used to be 60per cent royalty rate in the photographers favour but is now 50per cent. But some hidden charges (such as Alamy Distribution Commission*) mean you never see the payment you’re expecting after they take their cut.

So what is Novel Use?

Alamy themselves explain it like this:


We use the Novel Use collection when we are entering into deals that require a high degree of flexibility and are usually a departure from our core business. However, sometimes we may also work with familiar customers but in new and different ways as their businesses evolve.
If this all sounds very vague, I’m afraid that is intentional because the entire scope for Novel Use sales is impossible to define. New revenue opportunities present themselves as emerging businesses find a need for imagery and as technology continues to develop.
Our previous communications on Novel Use include the line below; your reaction to which should be the key driver behind your decision to sign up or not.
If you sign up to the Novel Use scheme you are giving Alamy permission to sell your images at any price and by any method we feel is appropriate.

Some of Alamy’s contributors have discussed Novel Use on its own forums:

Frankfitz said in April 2012
‘I recently withdrew from the Novel use scheme as it is simply not worth it. I had a 0.50 cents sale for an image which does not even cover the cost of charging a camera battery. Neither did it make any contribution to the other costs associated with getting to a location. That sort of very low fee is insulting to the professionalism of both photographers and Alamy and neither party can make any reasonable reuturn. Is it not time to scrap the Novel use scheme as the only people who benefit are buyers? Moreover, the amount of information supplied for a Novel use sale is derisory so photographers cannot be assured that their images are not being used by organisations which they may have ethical or moral objections.’ 

Pkphotos said in reply:

‘if you want to operate as a charity by all means opt in to novel use. Otherwise it has no place as a sales option on alamy.’

For my own $1 image, I would love to know how it was used. So if anyone sees it on a billboard, postcard or sticker, let me know.

*Alamy Distribution Commission is a further 15-20per cent charge. As far as I can tell, it does not apply to Novel Use.
** Signing up for Novel Use is optional for all contributors. Withdrawal can be done every April. Don’t ask me why.

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This entry was posted on April 3, 2013 by in alamy, novel use, photography, stock agency.
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