I have a lot of inquires about using stock for book covers as well as other commercial works. Inquiries come from a number of different sources including: publishing companies, designers, and sometimes from the authors themselves. Here is some of the things I have noticed about a lot of these messages that are more damaging then helpful, and un professional. Please understand that this isn't about anyone in general nor do I feel anyone is being rude or disrespectful purposefully. I thought it would be helpful for the people inquiring and for other stock artists on DA.
One of the biggest things I see is asking if the price listed is correct, and then giving a much lower number that you have paid for other stock.
-If I or any other stock provider has set a price it's because that is the price they feel comfortable offering. It's usually lower then they should offer, and telling them inadvertently it's too high is devaluing their work.
- Every stock created is different, and there is no right or wrong price to charge.
-Stock is also not a competition, and we don't under cut each other nor compete for users. We price our images based on what we feel is fair for us individually. The price is up to us, and not anyone else.A better way of saying this would be to ask "Is this the correct amount for MY project in particular, and are prices negotiable?"
Saying that you have paid X amount of dollars for stock off a website isn't helpful.
-I dabble in the stock world outside of Deviant art, and stock sites are not everything they are cracked up to be. My images may be $11-20 on sites like istock, but you have to buy at least 3 credits ($33) at a time and the dimensions are about 9-10 inches (compared to my 20+ inch photos here on DA). They also will charge royalties and extra for extending licensing.
-Stock artist on DA are not stock websites or businesses that have employees. You are not dealing with customer service, and we don't price match. A better way to ask this would be "I have purchased stock off websites previously, but I am not familiar with your pricing and guidelines can you explain them to me?" You can then decide if it is worth it enough to you for you to pay their asking price
"I pay X amount on this website, but everyone uses the same images and I want to buy images that are unique….but at the same price"
-Think about Name Brand vs Generic. You can buy the generic at a lower price, but it's not the same quality as the name brand. So, be prepared to pay more for something not everyone has access to.
-Also, even if you didn't mean to insult someone….ya just did. Saying someones unique images are only worth as much or less than not unique generic images isn't a good way to start a conversation. The images are unique because someone worked hard to make them that way, and it's probably the person you just messaged. Awkward! A better way to approach this would be "I have previously purchased stock off mainstream sites, but I am looking for unique images for my project. What are your fees and are they negotiable?" If you use images a lot you can always offer to buy several or enter an exclusive agreement, which may lower the price over all.
"My budget for stock is X amount"
-Sorry to be blunt, but thats NOT the stock artists problem or concern.
-Your projected budget doesn't correspond with how much time and money the stock artist put into creating the image.
-The stocker may try to help you out, but don't low ball them straight out of the gate.
-If the price of the stock is too high you may be able to negotiate, but don't expect the stock artist to take less because you only budgeted X amount.
-A stock artist may be happy to take another form of payment or offer a lower price, but leave it up to them.
-What I and others have listed is a starting price. Don't assume we are not already helping you out. We know that artist don't have big budgets, because we are artists ourselves and our prices are set at what we feel is fair.A better way to ask this would be "I have a limited projected budget, and I am wondering how I can make you happy and still not over shoot my stock budget."
"I am only getting paid X amount for this project (that I am asking about stock for)"
-If you negotiated the project then you should have budgeted appropriately for the stock you or the client wanted. If you find some stock outside that range you can either find a different stock image, ask for a higher budget from who contracted you (if they love the image as much as you do they may be willing to pay), or take a cut out of what you are making. Don't expect the Stock Artist to take a lower payment to boost your profits.
"Do you have a model release on hand that you can send me signed?"
-Nope, and It's not my place or responsibility to make one. You are the one needing protection and permission to use the image.
-I also don't know what your project entails, who you are working for, or what needs to be in the release. I can't make a release for you, because I don't know what you have agreed to outside our conversation or what you need from me.
-You won't be taken seriously, and you are setting yourself up for trouble if you don't have proper releases. Emails and messages are too vague to give you adequate protection legally, and that is simply because it usually will not have everything you intend to use the image for listed and it's not signed and validated.
The internet has plenty of release templates available to help you make one.
Don't be vague!
-I can't say yes or no if you don't tell me what the heck you're doing! Tell me print runs, if it's print or ebook, who is involved, what the story is about etc etc.
-I also can't judge price or negotiate with you if I am not sold on your project. Pitch it to me! If it's an interesting concept or benefits me significantly I am going to want to work with you.
-If you don't have stuff up on DA then send me a link to your previous work, because it will help me gauge the final product. Or send me the story! Wow me a little.
"Will you do a trade instead of payment?"
-Yep, but I am still going to think in monetary value. I am going to ask for something that has suggested retail close to what I am charging. This option may be cheaper for you, because the base price for items or prints for you is less.
-Some stockers may take unrelated items or services, but they still reserve the right to refuse these forms of payment.
-FYI Offering a print once the item is printed has been the easiest way for people to screw over stock artist, and I am pretty much over that. It's easiest because we trust you and sign a release in advance of receiving payment. If you don't send the item it becomes a fight for the stock artist to receive the item….I am fuming just thinking about how many times this has happened to me!
Better to say "I noticed your price for stock, and was wondering if you would do a trade instead? I can provide you with (blank) If you feel that is a fair trade"
"I can offer you an ebook in exchange for stock"
-Here is the thing with ebook covers. Stockers are usually more concerned with the cover, which they are featured on. I am sure your story is great, but the art is what is important. Anyone can go online and right click the cover of an ebook and save it, and I don't really need you to do that for me. It's nice but un necessary.
-Sending a file over the internet isn't offering much in return for the promotion of your book. A cover helps sell your book, and is worth more then an emailed file.
If is the only thing you have to offer I would suggest adding something to the deal. Maybe add a subscription or credit to the site the ebook will be on instead. That way the Stocker can choose something in the genre of literature they like, and still get to enjoy the cover of your book.
"I can't pay you, but I still want to use your image for my book etc"
-If you are going to receive any money (even if it's doesn't make you profit) you still need to pay the parties involved what is fair. Thats just good and fair business practice.
-This is especially true when you are using someones likeness!
If you can't pay the stocker maybe offer a service instead. If you do photoamipulations you can maybe offer a commission or something along those lines, and an author can maybe dedicate the book or offer editing help etc. Think about it, and figure out how to generate a fair trade.
If you are an author have the artist you commissioned send a message to the stock artist. Thats what you pay them for.
-Unless you are doing the cover yourself have the artist contact the stock owner. The artist will know what is needed to negotiate better then you will.
-When too many people are involved it's complicated. As a stock artist I am only concerned with the finished image, and the artist is the one who creates that.
If you are an Artist commissioned for a book cover don't make the stock artist deal with the Author or Client
-I had this issue with an artist for a band, and it's ridiculous. As an artist you are paid to deal with what you need to create the image you have been commissioned to create, and that includes the payment of owners of any image you use.
-For you stock artist. Don't allow an artist to tell you the author or client will send anything to you. Guess what happens? You end up with nothing, because the artist feels done with you (they got paid already) and the client doesn't understand what is going on most of the time (because you signed releases and negotiated with the artist). It just gets crazy. Make the artist responsible for figuring out your payment.
If you call yourself a publishing company then you are a business so act professional, and offer fair prices for stock.
-As a publisher you know that other stock websites and resources are used frequently, and want something to make your company stand out. If you approach a stock artist on DA it's because they offer great stock. So, treat them with respect and offer them a fair price.
-I have received offers from publishers for over $100 for non exclusive stock. I am not saying you have to offer that amount, but offering a very low figure doesn't make me take you seriously as a company (A small image off Getty images can run $50 or more and even for editorial $10 is on the very low end) When you offer super low prices for stock as a publishing company it doesn't come off professional. It looks more like you're taking advantage.
"I can't pay you, but it is good exposure for you"
-Unless you are getting high profile international exposure that will result in making the stocker famous and rich this isn't a valid way to pay someone for a service.
-Exposure doesn't pay bills, and you wouldn't personally go to work if you were only paid in exposure. You can't tell your dentist to fix your teeth for free because your smile will advertise his/her business. Exposure isn't currency. Even unpaid interns expect some kind of monetary pay off in the end.
"Other stock artist don't charge for images"
-Okay, then use them instead.
-If you want to use someones images then you follow their rules. If you asked it's probably because the stock artist has something you want, and you are at the stockers mercy. So be polite.
If a Stock artist says "What do you think is a fair price?"
-DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT find the lowest figure you find online and go with that. Find a medium price range if you are un sure, and ask the stock artist if they feel it is fair.
-One problem I ran into before I changed my policies for commercial stock was that I would give suggestions for payment (with what others had given me for similar projects) and had people donate a quarter the amount of my suggestions. It just creates an awkward situation, and makes the stock artist feel under valued and they may not work with you again.
A suggestion for figuring a starting price for a stock image would be to look at the Stock Artists exclusives. If the highest price they charge is $20 then you should offer more then that. Why? because exclusives don't (usually) come with commercial rights, and the artist has valued that image or images at that amount while still keeping all their rights to the image. A commercial license signs away some rights to the image, and they will probably not feel comfortable taking less for a commercial agreement then they do with a non commercial one.
"Why are you charging for images"
-I and other stock artist charge for commercial use as well as exclusives, because we want to cover some of our costs to make stock.
-We had to buy our own equipment, costumes, etc to provide YOU with amazing stock. The fair thing is for you to give back, and support your fellow artist.
-BIG REALITY CHECK COMING….I don't feel sorry for anyone at all when they complain about paying $1 and I spent $300 for the costume, $3500 for the camera, $100 for the lights, and $80 for the backdrop. No sympathy for you here at all so move along. Especially, if you plan on making money off using my stock.
-If you venture outside DA you will find that stock cost money. You have been spoiled here on DA. End of Story.
"Why are your images free for download, but you want to charge me to make a book cover?"
-Stock on Deviant art is for personal artistic use and enjoyment, creating new art work for the community, and practicing artistic skills. Stock artist don't get paid per download, make money on posting, and it's not for advertising our selves/our skills or a service. We just want to be involved in the art community, and inspire new works of art. It's not a business. Even if we sell exclusives it's not going to pay our bills!
-When an artist uses our stock it's a one on one personal exchange, and even when the artist makes prints we still are working directly with them on a one on one level. When it is for a book cover or any other commercial work you now involve an author, an artist/designer, a publishing company, other business, advertising/promotions etc. We now are working with individual artist X publishing companies X author X anyone else involved. It's now a commercial business endeavor, and not a one on one with an artist. It's a business transaction involving the exchanging of money and goods with numerous businesses and individuals. It's now commercial not personal.
-Even when self publishing or attempting to make a cover yourself you still are exchanging money with any websites where you place the book for sale. The stock images are also now tied to the promotion and content of your work, which means we now entered a business transaction.
-If you are an artist selling book covers than you are a business selling a service, and you're now involved with companies or outside contracts.
-If you need a release of any kind you're now entering a legal business transaction. If I have to be savy in legal jargon to respond to your inquiry then it's now a lot more work for me then faving and commenting on DA.
I may have missed some things, but it's a start!
Moral of the post is to be fair. If you wouldn't take an amount as payment for anything then don't expect someone else to do the same. Deviant Art stock is extremely unique, and that means you should be prepared to pay more then you would on a site that everyone else uses. You should also support your stock artist, because we give you guys awesome stuff to work with every day. We understand starving artist because we are those people, and we still expect a fair trade for our services just like you do.
Stock artist- Don't under value your work and charge what you deem fair, and not what someone else tells you to charge. The level of work you put into is valuable.
How to deal with companies or Artist who steal your work. Stock artist you have rights!
So, I am going to touch on the issue of stealing images, and what legal protection you have as a stock artist.First off, a bit about copyright.
Under US law, most international law as well, as soon as a work is made it is copyrighted to the artist. No registering necessary. Your photo, your copyright. End of story. When to register a copyright.
So, why would you need to register if the image is copyrighted immediately? If someone, or a company, steals your image, and you want to take legal action that is when you register. If you register the image (that is send in the forms) within 3 months of the infringement you can request damages up to $150,000. OUCH! But, Don't worry if you didn't register in time, because you can still ask for all licensing fees from the start of the infringement and damages from the point of registering, which is probably a couple of grand. Be sure you register the image as published, because you posted it on the internet!….So, big big dose of reality for you stock artists…Big name publishers can shell out $1000-4000 to license an image for a book cover. Check this out>>>aphotoeditor.com/2012/03/20/re…
OUCH, Right in the stocker feelers!….So stockers, don't let publishers make you feel guilty about your pricing.
Take these steps if you are infringed upon.Cease and desist letter.
If a company or a person steals an image, and doesn't respond to your emails then you need to send a cease and desist letter. What you are doing is leaving a paper trail, which is important! You can copy a cease and desist letter right off the internet for free. Modify the letter to your needs, and send it certified mail (it's like $1.50). If you can't send it by regular mail make sure you send an email copy to as many locations as possible! Including the website, company, client the artist works for or with etc. Make sure to keep documentation of where the letters or emails are sent. In the letter be sure to give a deadline for a reply.
In your letter should be your contact info, proof of ownership (I use a screen shot of the image in with unpublished images from the same series), a deadline, your fees for use, and a reminder of copyright law.
Most places will contact you or take the image down immediately, because there are huge ramifications for copyright infringement internationally. The following steps should only be taken if it's a company or a major infringement, because it's time consuming. Skip to the other steps if it's a smaller infringement.
They didn't care about my letter now what?
Now, you play the game. Register your image with the copyright agency in your country. The US one even has tutorials….and a section about Elvis sightings (I am not joking). It's gonna be around $50 to do this, but you can include it in damages/court/lawyer fees. Not fun, but it gives you legal standing.
This is the point where the term "Lawyer up" comes into play. After you register copyright and get everything in order you need to email a lawyer. I say email, because phone calls usually cost money. There are plenty of lawyers who do free assessments and legal council, so look around online. Be sure the lawyer is in business law or copyright law as well. A divorce lawyer probably won't help you here lol. Also, be sure to ask if they require an upfront fee or if they will take their payment after they negotiate a settlement for you. Don't get caught up paying upfront. You want to include the damage amount and the lawyer fees in what you ask the company to pay. Usually, copyright law is simple, because it's straight forward on who owns what and who stole what. Just be smart about the whole thing. You essentially have all the power, because copyright is in play to protect you and not the infringer.
Check out this story a marketing company posted about the time they infringed a copyright blog.webcopyplus.com/2011/02/1…
Companies will often bully people, because they assume you don't understand your rights. Be feisty, because you can take them on and win. The law is on your side when i comes to copyright. Something to not assume.
Don't assume anyone understands copyright. Like in the article I posted above, companies sometimes don't understand image copyright, and Individuals are even less likely to understand copyright. The best thing to do is explain copyright law to them when you contact them the first time. Copy and paste the law or send a link. lots of odd things are copyrighted…like craft store stamps and the Eiffel tower at night. Don't just assume everyone knows or understands what they did wrong. Be polite, and assume it's just a misunderstanding. If they don't try to make it right then follow the above steps.
Here is the link to the US copyright law www.copyright.gov/title17/
So, It's a small infringement now what?
If they have not responded to your cease and desist email or letter then this is the point where you can be a little nasty. Make it hard and inconvenient for them to post images. Contact the website host, the art website, clients, Facebook (basically anywhere they post their art), and explain that they stole your image. You don't even have to explain it's a stock photo. Just say they stole an image that belongs to you, because even if it is stock they violated the rules of use. So, any use on their behalf is void. Facebook doesn't even ask questions, and will take it down immediately. Other websites usually just need some proof of ownership, and a little info from you. Clients will drop artist for things like this, because if it comes to a legal dispute they don't want to be involved at all (this is true for websites as well). Usually, the artist will respond quickly after the images are pulled off a website or a client mentions your email. It's not fun, and I hate doing this type of stuff…However, its not okay for others to mistreat you or your work.
If you read one of my other journals I had an issue with a band who were ignoring me. I ended up posting publicly on several websites they were on about the issue, and the issue was resolved in a day. So, don't give up.
A small note to Stockers….Please, Don't get caught up in regulating everything, because it will drive you mad. It's the internet, and you will find your stock used on blogs, websites and artist will ignore your rules. If it's small just let it go. Take everything in stride, because It's not worth it to fight everyone. So, Choose your battles wisely.
Stock is supposed to be fun, and the moment you start fighting every small thing is the moment it stops being fun.