Getty Claims to Have Overpaid 9,000 iStock Photogs, Requires Repayment

Thousands of photographers have just found out they owe the company quite a lot of money

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istock sales iphone

A group of thousands of photographers on iStock were informed earlier this year that Getty had overpaid them, and that over the next six months they'll have to pay back the difference—leaving many of them in a lurch.

The earliest signs of the issues popped up late last year, with indications that there were mispayments in October and November to some 25,000 contributors to the iStock stock photography site. This number was eventually lowered to 9,000 individuals, who are now facing having to pay back amounts ranging for a few dollars to thousands, depending on how popular their images were.

iStock contributers were greeted with emails like this, saying:

Partner Program Recoupment Notification


We discovered that there were some irregularities with September 2013 and October 2013 Partner Program royalties payments. There were a number of contributor accounts that were overpaid royalties over these two months. Unfortunately your account was one of the affected accounts.

We have calculated the over payment amount to be $896.88. Rather than take this amount out of your royalty balance in one adjustment we have decided to schedule the removal of these funds over a 6 month period. Starting before the end of February 2014 we will begin removing $149.48. Once per month for the next six months we will recoup the balance of the over payment. You will receive a monthly notification as immediately after the funds are removed.

Over Payment Total=$956.66

Monthly Recoup Amount=$159.44

As much as this is horrible for the photographers, unfortunately Getty is probably in the right to be able to require repayment if they overpaid to begin with (though we're not lawyers, and it may depend on where you're located). But the real problem is that the whole situation is opaque. Photographers rely on Getty to tell them how many of their images were downloaded and used, so it's not like they were invoicing Getty for services, and the company overpaid. They took Getty's word on how much they should receive, and then received it. There was no opportunity for the photographers to check the numbers or to make sure everything was above board.

Going on from that, there has been no explanation of what was the cause of the mispayment, or more specific information about what went wrong. Instead, the photographers are just blanket given an email saying they owe a certain amount—without any proof or real explanation. It's hardly a surprise that those who have been hit are feeling angered and frustrated by how Getty is dealing with what amounts to their own screwup.

[via PetaPixel]