Alex Goh and the team at Imgembed are onto something. They launched this year at SXSW and already have one million images loaded into their platform for sharing, using, and, most importantly, monetizing photos online.
It goes something like this: if you are a professional or amateur photographer, you can upload your photos via Instagram, Flickr, or any other social photo sharing platform. If you’re a journalist, you can search images for free for your blog posts. You copy the embed link, and the photographer’s name comes embedded with the photo.
If the footer bar with the creator’s name doesn’t work for your layout, you go premium. Each photo comes with a price, set by the creator, for each impression. The image is always free for up to 10,000 impressions, and after that, you pay the price. And if you’re article with a picture gets more than 10,000 you should know how to monetize that anyway.
Every time a photo is embedded, the platform generates a unique jpeg with the creator’s name attached, so the photos are easier to track. You can ‘steal’ an Imgembed photo, but it has the artist’s name on it. Win – win.
It gets to the heart of digital copyright and Creative Commons licensing. Goh believes that people want to use creative works ethically, but aren’t very good at it. He says:
There’s a big misunderstanding about Creative Commons licensing. CC licenses mean that you can use the image, but you have to attribute the work to the creator. People often don’t do that or they forget to link back…So they’re stealing because it’s free and it’s easy. We’ve made it so easy, that there’s no excuse to do it the wrong way.
This is good news for bloggers and photographers. Getty Images and other stock photo sites are good for larger publications who want to pay a set price for one image and know that the cost is worth it. But stock photos are only ever so compelling — I’ve seen the one I used for free about freelance writing across the internet used for articles on student debt and budget cuts. Imgembed’s stash of photos is bound to be more broad and unique, and you know the photographer is getting credit, or better, getting paid. And you only pay for as much as you use.
Photographers can set their own price for each individual photo, add watermarks at will, and cash out at any time.
Goh likens it to a “farmer’s market” for photographs.
We’re bringing the creators and the users together, but the creators have full control. We don’t advise or set standard prices like other stock photo platforms. We don’t aim to prosecute people who steal, but want to encourage a good feeling about using creative work. We made it easier to use images the right way and we hope to really shift the paradigm.
So I understand both sides. I’ve spent time trying to gather and use images for Design Taxi, and I hear from creatives about monetizing their work.
Currently based in Singapore, Goh is heading to New York this summer to spread the word about Imgembed. Eventually, they plan on scaling the site for institutional use, so larger publications could have a flexible credit account. They could use images and pay for each impression with their balance.
It’s so simple, it just might work.