The list of Microstock Acronyms and Terms

List of Microstock Acronyms and Terms

List of Microstock Acronyms and Terms (Image by Mimafoto)

We tried to compile a list of commonly used terms and acronyms in the Microstock industry that might not be intuitive to understand for newbies, so we can always point them here when they ask “What does it mean?”

In some cases these were written a bit tongue-in-cheek, so don't take them all too seriously. 😉

Terms and Acronyms commonly used in micro stock discussions

Acceptance Rate – Number of images accepted for sale in comparison to the images uploaded to an agency; rates depend on strictness of the agency and can range from below 50% (usually for beginners) to above 90% (for experienced contributors)

Agency – originally a company representing the interests of artists, today commonly used for companies factually acting as distribution platforms

API – application programming interface; offered by some agencies to connect third party solutions, either for contributors or customers

BME – Best Month Ever. Can be meant as number of downloads and/or royalties earned

BMY – also: BMTY Best Month this Year. Can be meant as number of downloads and/or royalties earned

CGI – Computer Generated Image, not shot through a camera but generated with specialized programs

Credit Pack – as opposed to subs, the client pays for a certain amount of credits and can exchange these for images priced in different credits by size

DeepMetafree external software used to upload files to iStockphoto

DL – Download, usually a paid one

DPDepositPhotos, a newcomer showing some success in entering the microstock market segment

DPCDollar Photo Club; a low end subscription offer launched by Fotolia

DTDreamsTime, microstock agency with slightly higher pricing, especially on best selling images

Editorial Image – Image that can not be licensed for advertising or merchandise use due to lack of releases for the people, places or trademarks visible

Editorial Use – Not to be confused with Editorial Image, as also commercially usable images can be used within an editorial context to illustrate articles or news

EL – Extended or Enhanced License; higher paid download giving more rights (multi-seat, print runs, resale products) to the client

Exclusive – Option offered by several agencies to submit certain images or the whole portfolio exclusively to one agency, usually rewarded with higher royalties

FAAFine Art America; site focused on selling art prints of images

FTFotolia, microstock agencies, especially strong in the central European markets

GIGetty Images, the largest stock image agency on the planet

Image Pack – as opposed to subs, with an image pack the customer buys a certain number of downloads to be used up over a longer period of time (usually one year)

IPTC – image meta data included in the file, e.g. description and keywords

ISiStockphoto, the inventor of the microstock segment in licensing

LCV – Low Commercial Value; term for images which are in general technically subpar and/or of a subject that is not demanded often by customers

Lobo – sometimes referred to as “pieman”; a mythical creature in the dark realms of microstock forums, specifically those hosted by iStockphoto

Macrostock – a market segment offering high priced images, usually either RF or RM, with largest file size usually taking several hundred of dollars for a license

Midstock – somewhere in between the Macrostock and Microstock segment, with prices typically ranging from $10 to $100

Microstock – a market segment offering image licenses at much lower prices (usually starting below $1 for the smallest resolution)

Mobile Stock – Image shot and/or processed with mobile devices like smart phones and tablet computers; the exact definition can vary between agencies and contributors

MR – Model Release; formal document signed by a person to allow the photographer to license his/her likeness for commercial purposes

MSGMicroStockGroup, online community forum for exchanging information and opinions or getting peer feedback

PAYG – Pay as you go; commonly used for all single image sales, sometimes image or credit packs included

PP – Partner Program; mostly iStock specific but also other agencies which are distributing images through third parties

PPV – Pay per View; innovative license model allowing the customer to use images without fixed fee but paid later per impression

PR – Property Release; legal document allowing the photographer to sell images of a protected place, product or art work

Referral – A contributor or customer referred by an active member, usually being rewarded with a fixed fee or a percentage of sales/purchases

RF – Royalty Free; perpetual licenses for images, valid across multiple uses and media

RM – Rights Managed; license priced based on a specific use and time frame, can be from months to years

ROI – Return on Investment; money made back compared to the money spent on an image or shoot

RPD – Royalty per download; the average amount made by the contributor for each of their licenses sold, typically below $1 for microstock

RPI – Return or Royalties per Image; total royalties earned divided by the number of images in a contributor's portfolio, usually per month

SS – or SSTK; Shutterstock, a microstock agency introducing the subscription model to broad parts of the global market

SOD – Shutterstock specific term for non-subscription downloads like special customer agreements, can range from subscription royalties to three digits

Subs – Images licensed through a subscription program, usually paid at a fixed fee

UL – Upload, file send to an agency for licensing

WME/WMY – Worst month ever/this year, see also: BME/BMY

YAWOB – Yuri Arcurs White Orange Blue; typical color range found in images of the superstar in microstock

Yuri – fictitious photographer who changed the face of microstock


Did you miss acronyms or a term?

If you know more terms or acronyms that should be in this list, please leave a comment, we will update this list as needed.



About Author

I write about the stock photo and microstock industry since 2006 on my several online-magazines. My goal for MyStockPhoto is to teach photographers and stock photographers how to sell more photos and earn money with their photography hobby.

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