Slightly longer than usual since my last news digest - it's slow on news over the holidays...
Fotolia launched a 'tax centre' in their account control panel, all contributors are required to complete tax forms before payments are made. This practice is in line with shutterstock and veer. For individuals in many countries it's a reasonably simple process of reading some documentation and filling out a form online. Contributors have until January 1 2010 to complete their forms.
Panthermedia reduced their prices more inline with the rest of the microstock industry. It appears that midstock  prices did not work for them(?), the licensing options have also been streamlined which is a good good thing, as they're still not exactly straight forward (that is not uncommon on sites with subscriptions, credit options and multiple licenses to understand).
imagecatalog  quietly passed away in late November, unloved and unnoticed by most.
istock announced  (in a well worded release) their 2010 pricing, some significant changes to prices for exclusive photographers images and their vetta collection, plus a changes to their canister levels for contributors. The only thing I object is Kelly's comment that "Exclusive collection is built on rich, unique imagery unlike anything else out there". Istock certainly have something good in their exclusive contributor base and exclusive collection, and yes those images are unique (you can't buy them elsewhere), but a quick look through recent istock exclusive uploads  reveals some very ordinary images from their exclusives (and some good ones), a good proportion of those exclusive images are very much "like anything else out there". The doubling of prices of exclusive images is probably a good idea, so long as new the search is implemented well. When vetta launched all vetta images appeared first in the search results completely eclipsing the lower priced images, the "problem" with best match was soon corrected to show a better mix of images. Istock have every right to bias search results towards exclusive images so long as the lower quality exclusive images (there are plenty of them!) don't come ahead of higher quality images or better matches from a non-exclusive contributors, If they do impatient buyers may go elsewhere.
Dreamstime  also announced their 'pay rise' by announcing their 2010 payment schedule , c/w a comparison of last years prices (thank you DT ). More credits per download for most image sizes and easier to attain level 5 images (50 DL instead of 100 DL).
Fotoila  snuck in a change to their 24 months unsold images for 50 cents program, these images are now locked into their free API  for 5 years instead of the previous 18 months. Tact? More Gordon Brown than Barack Obama I think... comments on MSG . FT  also more publicly announced in a newsletter that new buyers, contributor earnings, credit purchases and photographer payouts were all up by around 50% on 2008 levels, API calls were up 203% (API calls are 3rd party websites and software reselling or searching for licensable images).
Fotolia also cut commission to their contributors by up to 5% (read on it's not all bad news). Exclusive photographers also took athe same cut and still receive17% more than non-exclusives (in addition to higher sale price per image). Royalties now increase by 3% per fotolia rank i.e. non exclusives now receive 28% after 100 downloads 31% after 1000 instead of the previous 34%, 34% and upwards. This will benefit their well established photographers and penalise the majority of hobbyists. It's not all bad news as prices have increased (basic images are now $1,3,5 (Xsmall, Small, Medium) instead of the previous $1,2,4 dollars, so all but the smallest images you should see more income.
Clustershot  announced that they have partnered with tineye to have all their images indexed. This brings the potential for people seeing your images elsewhere online to search for a place to license them.