Fotolia provides means for worldwide distribution of photographs, through PayPal (in the countries that use it), and Moneybookers (another internet payment system offered in more countries than Paypal). Some photographs are offered for free; those that are sold are priced from $1 to as high as $2,000.
As of October 2008, Fotolia had more than 800,000 members who had uploaded more than 4.2 million photographs and graphic illustrations.
Depending on what the photographer offers, images may be purchased royalty free, for use on web sites, or they may be purchased through an exclusive buyout, in which the customer can use the photos commercially (such as selling prints and products with the photo on them).
Fotolia require comprehensive personal details from buyers such as name, addresses, phone numbers etc. If you do not supply all the personal details (including optional fields), you will still be able to register and purchase credits but will receive an email indicating your account will be removed if you do not comply with the personal details request within a few days.
Each photo is required at least seven (but possibly more) tags to help categorize the image to make searches easier.
The microstock photography industry as a whole has been the target of complaints that their inexpensive images are taking business away from stock agencies that must charge much more to pay the higher commissions that professional photographers demand. The smaller agencies pay only small royalties to amateur photographers and hobbyists or professional photographers in less expensive countries are excited to make even a dollar on their images. Concern over emerging competition has taken a toll on the incumbents, which have seen their stock share prices plunge.