Shutterstock’s AI Contributor Fund Likely Disbursed $4 Million+

Shutterstock’s Contributor Fund has a goal of supporting photographers and artists whose work has been used in training AI tools. There is a recent analysis suggesting that the payout for May may have reached $4.24 million.

According to the findings by stock photographer Robert Kneschke, photographers in the Contributor Fund will receive payment every six months, with a specific section dedicated to it in the sales overview.

To calculate average payouts, Kneschke surveyed 58 photographers and considered the size of their portfolios.

He discovered that the average portfolio size of the participants was 6,343 images, while the median was 2,112 images.

Based on the survey, the average revenue per image from the fund was $0.0078, and the median was $0.0069. Interestingly, Kneschke’s own payout fell within this range.

The photographer who received the highest value per image ($0.0378) had a relatively small portfolio of 1,480 images.

Shutterstock defines the Contributor Fund as a “new revenue stream” that extends beyond downloads and licensing.

It asserts that photographers will receive a portion of the total contract value it has with partners, which is in proportion to the amount of their content and metadata included in the purchased datasets.

Although the estimated payout of $4.24 million seems impressive, Kneschke remains unimpressed.

Considering Shutterstock’s reported sales of over $215 million and net income of over $32 million, he suggests that the compensation offered may not be significant or fair, equating to approximately two-thirds of a U.S. cent per image in the portfolio twice a year.

In a previous interaction with the AI world, Kneschke had asked the LAION dataset to remove his photos and was unexpectedly invoiced $1,000 by them.

Is this adequate compensation for the use of AI with your images? Some may argue it falls short.

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