Photographers await a shot of the royal baby, in this picture licensed through PicFair

Credit: Darren Burn/PicFair

PicFair, a platform giving anyone the opportunity to license and sell images for use by the media, launched into public beta yesterday.

In what PicFair's founder Benji Lanyado describes as "three clicks" for copyright holders between signing up and putting images on the market, and two clicks for people wanting to license the image, the platform is intended to simplify and democratise the image licensing process.

"The whole way that image procurement works on the web is like the wild west," Lanyado, a journalist turned coder, told Journalism.co.uk. "People get their images stolen all over the place; picture editors frequently want to pay for the images but can't work out a way of doing it and have to write up contracts between photographers and image desks. So this is trying to solve that problem and make it easy."

PicFair joins the Copyright Hub, launched in July to act as a resource, portal and forum for all those involved in copyright to assist with the process of licensing, and is another website that seeks to streamline the use of images by the media in the digital age.

PicFair users create an account and upload images, setting the price as they see fit. Visitors to the site do not need to sign up and can buy a licence for the image directly through the page. PicFair takes 10 per cent commission on top of the image price and Stripe, the PayPal alternative used by PicFair, charge 3.3 per cent plus 30 pence per purchase.

The terms of the licence are clear as part of PicFair's intention to open up the market for amateurs with quality images, Lanyado said, as well as professionals with a large back catalogue.

"There's a huge amount of public supply but it's hugely difficult to get it to the market," he said. "Everyone is a photographer these days but I think a lot of the existing ways of getting your image on the market are very exclusive. There are very high barriers to entry, but this can be for anyone who's taken a lucky shot on their iPhone."

Scoopshot, a Finnish photography service, provides a similar function for professionals and also allows amateurs to upload photos from mobile devices for sale to the media, but PicFair is less news-oriented, allowing a broader range of image types and licence uses. And hopefully, says Lanyado, the platform will tap into the market of images on social media as long as they fit within the guidelines of PicFair's contributor agreement.

The 2012 global survey by the Global Stock Image Market estimated that major stock image suppliers held around 341 million images, whereas, according to current trends, almost 400 million images are uploaded to Facebook and Instagram every day.

"There's a huge amount of viable content out there on the internet that isn't being put to market and that's what I wanted to do with PicFair," Lanyado said. "The vast majority of those are going to be family photos or people getting drunk but you see really good quality, interesting images all the time. I want PicFair to be a place where people come to see interesting images as well as buy them."

Lanyado, a former travel journalist, learned to code and created The Reddit Edit a year ago and more recently launched a service to create interactive visuals for news outlets.

Update: This article has been updated with more recent figures on the number of images uploaded to social media. The previous statistic, indicating the number of images on social media was expected to reach 124 billion by the end of 2013, was taken from an out-dated study.

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