A recent study of more than 1,000 people conducted by KRC Research and iStockphoto, the world’s royalty-free multimedia sales leader, revealed that 33 percent of Americans are using downloaded digital content, but nearly 30 percent are unaware that permission may be required for its use. This lack of awareness spikes to 38 percent among Americans in both the 18–24 and 65 and older age groups.

While many Americans are using downloaded digital media content for personal or professional use, only 41 percent are aware that there are companies that sell royalty-free images, videos, music or sound effects. Additionally, although more than 40 percent of Americans consider photography, videography or music a hobby, just six percent are profiting from their digital media avocations.

iStock can help the best of these hobbyists monetize their artwork. As one of the world’s first crowdsourced communities, iStock sells legally approved royalty-free imagery and videos for as low as $1 each to more than 3.6 million people worldwide. In 2007, iStock paid contributing artists more than $20 million in royalties, and on Aug. 26, 2008, for the second year in a row, gave exclusive artists 100 percent of the royalties their images earned that day, which totaled more than $200,000.

“It’s become so user-friendly to upload images and video to the Internet that it’s no wonder almost half the population feels so comfortable using online digital content,” said Bruce Livingstone, CEO of iStockphoto. “We’re happy to provide these same eager digital content providers with a place to learn about and profit from their artwork. We see a vast, media-hungry customer base out there who may not know what stock means but we continue to lead the pack of stock image companies to satisfy this growing appetite for legally-sound digital content.”

Despite legal restrictions, downloads of imagery and video on the rise

  • Twenty-seven percent of Americans don’t realize they could be violating artists’ rights. People who regularly download images and videos are not necessarily aware of the laws regarding this activity.
    • 26% of people who download photos, artwork, images or videos to help them with their job or business do not believe there are legal ramifications.
    • 30% of people who download photos, artwork, images or videos to use on their blog, web page, or social networking site do not believe there are legal ramifications.
    • 29% of people who downloaded photos, artwork, images or videos for personal uses such as scrapbooking, albums, invitations, etc., do not believe there are legal ramifications.
  • Americans who say videography is a hobby of theirs are very likely to say they have downloaded digital media for personal or business use, with close to two-thirds (64%) acknowledging so, followed by photo hobbyists (52%), and those who create music as a hobby (44%).
  • Interestingly, adults under 35 were consistently more likely to say they download for personal creative uses (54%), for their job or business (24%), or to use on their blog, web page, etc. (35%).
  • Those with household income of $75,000 or more a year were also more likely to say they download for personal creative uses (46%) or for their job or business (39%).

More than 40 percent create photo, video and music, but few monetize their passions

Thirty-one percent of Americans consider photography a hobby, while 17 percent consider videography or creating music a hobby. And, of the 41 percent of Americans who consider at least one of those activities a hobby, only six percent say they are currently leveraging their passion to earn supplemental income.

In fact, the research shows that 37 percent of the musicians surveyed said they would be interested in learning more about earning supplemental income by selling stock audio. Thirty-one percent of the videographers surveyed would be interested in earning income with video and 25 percent of photographers surveyed would be interested in earning income with photography.

About the survey

KRC conducted an online survey of 1,003 adults in June of 2008 on behalf of iStockphoto. The margin of error for the overall sample is ± 3.1 percentage points at 95 percent confidence level.

About iStockphoto

iStockphoto,, is the world’s leading royalty-free stock destination, with an image downloaded every 1.3 seconds. iStock pioneered the micropayment phenomenon in this industry, enabling buyers to license images for as little as a dollar. iStockphoto entered the stock video market with similarly enticing price points in September of 2006. In partnership with its members, iStockphoto has turned community into commerce, transforming the digital imagery market by encouraging passionate dialogue and education, while making imagery affordable to businesses that may not have licensed imagery otherwise. iStockphoto is headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Getty Images.