picscoutPicScout is a company that offers a series of services to stock photography agencies, photographers / content creators and to image buyers.


Some PicScout terminology:

  • ImageIRC - picscouts database of image 'fingerprints' to which photographers and agencies can add their images (compare this with tineye) matches are done using sophisticated algorithms not just a simple comparison of identical images or metadata.
  • ImageExchange - A browser plugin that allows image buyers to automatically discover if an image they find on the web is available for license and under what terms.
  • ImageTracker - A tool for agencies and photographers to enforce Rights Managed image licenses by matching misuse of images found online to the ImageIRC database.


Update Jul 2012: It's been 15 months since Getty bought out PicScout without any updates


ImageExchange For Buyers

Image buyers can download a free firefox or internet explorer plug-in. The plug-in is useful to image buyers as it highlights all 'known' images displayed in the web browser with a small blue 'information' ball.

imageExchange icon

You can instantly see which images on a given web page of any website are included in the imageIRC database and available for license as stock photos. A license pop-up displays the image, license details and links to agencies to buy the images. More than 100 stock agencies currently have their images included in the database.


Photographers: "Every Image Gets Its Credit"

At present photographers can submit their images to the ImageIRC database free of charge. At the moment (October 2010) I'd describe this process from an individual photographers point of view as a 'work in progress'. Using the ImageExchange plug-in you can see that several of the microstock agencies and many of the macrostock agencies already have their images included in the database. Find an image online available at an agency and you can click a button to be taken direct to the image page to buy. For individual photographers the tools to make this happen fully are still to be built. For the time being you have to make do with uploading images for fingerprinting and when buyers find your matching images they are taken to a single url of your choosing (e.g. a site home page). Tracking of how many clicks have been generated is yet to be provided on the site but if you have any kind of analytics on your web site you can view traffic generated from "".

imageExchange popupThe real beauty of this service is that it turns each and every one of your images used online into an 'ad' for your website - obviously only to those people who have the plugin; but image buyers have a vested interest in using the plugin and they are your target audience. Everywhere someone has bought and used one of your images, or even for that matter stolen it and posted it online a small blue icon is displayed in the upper right hand corner announcing "I'm for sale".



I've uploaded some 5000+ images to picscout imageIRC to review the service. As I wrote above there are a few features for individual photographers which are yet to be implemented. At the moment I can see a small amount of traffic coming from imageExchange to my nominated website - but that is better than no traffic at all! - hopefully in the future I will be able to see the source of those clicks, specify a target url and perhaps track conversions.

We are still waiting to see how picscout will decide which agency to show if more than one agency offers the same image. At the moment it seems that where I have images uploaded to dreamstime it's them that get included in the pop-up and not my site. At a wild guess I could imagine that there might be a bidding system similar to google adwords where the agency with the highest bid for the buyer gets placed top of the list - or included as the sole agency listed (complete speculation on my part). For the time being the clicks are free and the plan is for them to cost 5 cents per click in the future for microstock priced images.

Picscout have announced that they will support creative commons images, these will be included in the library free of charge although full details are still pending.

I fully recommend the ImageExchange browser plugins to image Buyers. For microstock photographers ImageIRC is only of use if you have setup a website of your own setup to sell images, or if you have creative commons licensed images and want end users to be able to find you as the source of the images - as we know not all image users correctly attribute the source of creative commons work. I'm looking forward to future developments of this service for photographers.


Below is the pricing currently offered (at time of writing) to photographers using ImageIRC

Standard Pricing until December 31, 2010
Rights Managed
Fee to
through December
31, 2010 (regularly
through December
31, 2010 (Regularly
through December 31,
2010 (regularly



Links: - Main site (download plugins)

PicscoutBlog - News updates and case studies

Picscout on twitter | Picscout on Facebook


Kelly @ PicScout's picture

Great Article--Thanks!

Kelly @ PicScout (not verified) on Fri, 2010-10-29 16:02
Hi Steve—Thanks for the insightful post about PicScout! You really capture the value ImageExchange offers image buyers. And just so you know, PicScout plans to implement suggestions from users like you in an improved version of ImageExchange very soon.
Nikolay's picture

any progress?

Nikolay (not verified) on Wed, 2011-12-21 10:53
Hi, this is Nikolay speaking. Wondered if a year later you could make some update on using the ImageExchange service. Was it of any use after all? Thanx in advance.
Steve Gibson's picture

Gone Very Quiet

Steve Gibson on Fri, 2011-12-23 00:24

I did hear about 6 months back things were still developing which was a surprise to me (a pleasing one), since Getty stuck their oar in things seem to have stagnated (I'm trying to be fair and unbiased in saying that, I have nothing against Getty, they just seem to reap destruction... but then so do Google when they buy things out)

I though it was such a great concept, but the signs are rather bad at the moment



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