Citizen media picture agency Scoopt has been acquired by Getty Images for an undisclosed sum. The two-employee company will retain its name and Glasgow base, but will now report to the Getty London news desk.
The company was formed by Kyle MacRae and his wife Jill as a negotiating service for members of the public who had taken newsworthy photographs. Notable scoops included front pages images in The Times and The Herald of a recent Manhattan plane crash, and pictures syndicated worldwide of a television star in a lesbian clinch.
"Scoopt was acquired by Getty Images at the beginning of March this year," MacRae told weekly technology podcast OUT-LAW Radio. When asked what the price was, MacRae said: "that's one I'm not allowed to answer, I'm not able to discuss it at all."
The agency traded on the fact that it was more likely to negotiate a lucrative deal from newspaper picture desks it had dealt with before than a member of the public. It took half of the fees earned by a photo but copyright in the image stayed with the taker of the picture.
The firm has been operating for 18 months and the MacRaes were its only employees. Both will now become Getty employees.
MacRae said that the move will help the small company reach much bigger markets than it could on its own. "For us this makes a world of difference, it gives Scoopt, instantly, global sales reach, which was always one of the big challenges for a start-up media business," he said.
"It is relatively straightforward to acquire members, but not so easy to sell their pictures into these global markets," said MacRae. "That, of course, is what Getty Images does day in day out. There is no way we could rival that skill so it made absolute sense to tap into that sales network."
MacRae had previously told OUT-LAW of his desire to move away from celebrity exposé pictures and towards news images. The company's big earning pictures, though, were celebrity and pop culture snaps. It earned its biggest sums from a picture of a Dr Who monster just before the series returned to television and the images of a star of television programme Lost in a bar kissing another woman.
MacRae also previously told OUT-LAW that the agency did not publish everything it was given and that it had turned down the chance to publish video and stills from a private royal family home video it was offered.
Even amongst amateurs it is important to maintain a sense of ethical behaviour, he said. "I think there is a risk that people will go too far. If you come across an event where people need help then help them, don't take photos," he said. "A professional photo-journalist can probably justify shooting rather than helping, that's their job. Members of the public aren't, it's just the wrong thing to do, you drop the camera, you help where you possibly can then you get yourself the hell out into a position of safety."