Change the humiliating system of royalties for Shutterstock contributors!

Change the humiliating system of royalties for Shutterstock contributors!

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On June 1, 2020, Shutterstock microstock agency changed its authors’ earnings system, reducing the minimum amount of royalties from subscription packages to 10 cents. The new system also ranges the authors by the levels and the percentage of income now depends on the levels. The authors got a notification of the new changes just 5 days before the start of its validity.

In addition, an annual ratings’ reset was introduced, meaning every January 1st every author turns into a beginner and the counter of his/her sales required for obtaining a high level and a higher percentage of earnings, will be reset to zero making his/her earnings minimal again.

All this has already had an extremely negative impact on the income of the authors despite the consistent quality and the productivity of their work. Furthermore on January 1st their work will be completely devaluated.

We, Shutterstock contributors, absolutely disagree with this new framework and demand to change the new earnings structure not only in the interests of the stock, but also in the interests of the authors. We call all those who care to support us and sign this petition!

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Open message to the Management of Shutterstock


Dear Executive team of Shutterstock,

We, Shutterstock contributors from all over the world, are hereby addressing you. Many of us have been working with you for years, and we have seen annual reports showing company’s profit growth and we believe that we have the right to expect respect for both our work and contribution to the prosperity of Shutterstock.

We are forced to contact you publicly because of the situation with the update of the earnings structure set up as of June 1st, 2020. This new structure was introduced only a couple of days before the start of its validity, without any prior notification or discussion with the authors.

Instead of greater income for active authors as it was promised, we noticed a radical decrease in RPD without any increase in the number of downloads. We believe the announced percentages of new earnings are not fair. These are the percentages only for those cases when the entire package is used, while clients generally do not use the entire package. Thus a significant part of the selling prices is not distributed and goes solely to the stock.

The new earnings structure violates the existing relationship between Shutterstock and the authors, violates the relationship in the whole industry, devalues our work and does not account for our content production costs for expenses.

The rating system or so called levels system has also been changed. Resetting the rating every year on January 1st is totally unfair to authors. Rating should be based on quality of content and quantity of sales for the period of time. A top-manager cannot turn into a clerk every year on January 1st, and an experienced photographer, graphic designer or videographer cannot turn into a beginner.

Taking all above-mentioned into account we demand on the following changes to be made by the end of June 2020:

  1. To make fixed earnings from subscription equalled $0.25, $0.30, $0.33, $0.36, $0.38, $0.40 in accordance with different levels (1 to 6), keeping the new system of contributors’ levels and earnings structure for other types of sales.
  2. To change the reset of ratings/levels by moving to a system that counts sales for the last 12 months and fixes the criteria for the transition between levels for a long time;
  3. To decrease the requirements for video level 5 and video level 6 and make them 1000 and 10000 respectively.
  4. To reinstate a full exam for new contributors in order to decrease the amount of low quality content.

OR to get back to the previous earnings and levels structure.

We understand that there is a crisis and a pandemic at the moment in the world, we are also experiencing a drop in sales. But this does not remove the need for a respectful attitude to the authors. Despite numerous requests to cancel the new changes, you continue to remain silent and refuse to conduct negotiations. Therefore, in order to protest against the new system, we are now doing the following worldwide:

  1. massively stop the uploading of new content
  2. deactivate sales of our content from June 15th
  3. continue deleting content from Shutterstock
  4. spread the information about current situation in mass media and social networks

In case of further refusal to compromise, we will be forced to strengthen the steps we take.

Nonetheless we are always open for a dialogue and rely on cooperation.

Kind regards,
Shutterstock contributors