Corbis, the Seattle image company owned by Bill Gates, is entering the business of selling inexpensive stock photography over the Web with a new beta site called SnapVillage.
Microstock photography represents a new business model that is transforming digital media, but Corbis has come to it relatively late in the game.
Corbis said it's out to "break out of the mold" of existing microstock Web sites, making changes in the typical submission, pricing, searching and purchasing methods.
SnapVillage lets photographers set their own price for images, at $1, $5, $10, $25 or $50, and they can change picture prices any time. The site says it pays photographers a flat, non-exclusive rate of 30 percent per image or 30 cents a download for subscriptions sales.
That's right down the middle of iStockphoto's payment structure, which is 20 percent for non-exclusive sales, or up to 40 percent if iStockphoto is the sole distributor.