Alamy alarm

LIKE MANY photographers I find www.alamy.com - "The web's largest stock photo site" - another useful outlet for my work. I often look at its blog, a noticeboard on which the portal announces changes to its way of dealing with things. Blow me down, Alamy CEO James West is proudly announcing "the first of our Novel Use initiatives".

Even though we all knew it was coming, its arrival still has a bowel-opening effect on a photographer like myself who depends on stock sales to make a living. I can see the point of bloggers and students having a place where they can buy pictures to illustrate their stuff that don't cost an arm and a leg. Many sites supply material of this kind - so why do Alamy see the need to dilute their own brand and go chasing the 50 cent market?

How Alamy intend to police the new low-cost market they've entered has yet to be revealed. Once a picture is up on a blog, what stops anyone who wants to downloading and reproducing it? Feeding this insanity by charging £0.60 per download seems pointless - except for those making the actual sales and skimming 50p off each one.

Less than 24 hours later, after the first contributor comment on the blog, James West announced: "An opt-out has been made available for Novel Use... I apologise unreservedly to those of you who feel you have been misled."

If Novel Use is to be another string to the Alamy bow, (and there may well be a place for it), Alamy should do what the biggest players (Getty, Corbis, Jupiter) do and keep Micro/Novel use stock separate from the bread-and-butter site.

And I haven't even started on so-called educational use yet.

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