Citizen journalism picture agency Scoopt closes

Scoopt, the citizen journalism picture agency which sold amateur mobile phone photos to newspapers, has closed.

The agency – whose slogan was “Snap, Send, Sell” – was founded by Kyle MacRae and his wife, Jill, in 2005, and was sold to Getty Images in 2007.

Famous pictures included David Cameron wiping his hand after shaking hands with a beggar in Scotland, and the aftermath of the Tavistock Square bomb on 7 July 2005.

A Getty Images spokeswoman told Press Gazette: “If something breaks, it’s an amazing way to get first-hand content, like the Underground bombs. But you really have to have a lot of events to get enough content.”

Scoopt members uploaded photos and, if and when they were sold, received 40 per cent of the sales. The agency kept 12-month exclusivity on all photos it received.

In an email to members seen by Press Gazette, Scoopt said: “I am sorry to inform you we have decided to close the business. Our experience with Scoopt has taught us some very valuable lessons.

“We remain convinced that there is a demand for this kind of material as part of an editorial product, but for the moment are choosing to focus our energies within Getty Images on our core products in news, sport and entertainment.”

Getty Images said it could still take citizen-generated content, as and when required. The scoopt.com website will accept pictures until Friday and a holding page will remain until next month.

Anyone who submitted photos that Getty Images decides to keep will be contacted directly, but those not contacted will regain copyright on their photos.

MacRae, a former freelance technology journalist, wrote in Press Gazette in 2006: “The trouble with any start-up, especially a dotcom start-up in a brand new media space, is that you don’t know any of the answers before you have to sell your house to find out.”

He added: “Scoopt was first into this market, just three days before the terror attacks in London last summer, and the first to monetise (does that word even exist?) citizen journalism.”

MacRae carried on running Scoopt for Getty Images until March last year.

In July 2008, Getty Images also launched a partnership with Flickr, the photo-sharing website owned by Yahoo.

It bought Photonica for $51m in 2005, and iStockPhoto.com for $50m in 2006, and was itself bought by private equity firm Hellman & Friedman for $2.4bn in February last year.

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