347 AGE LAUNCHES NEW YORK OFFICE
October 25, 2000
The Spanish agency AGE Fotostock has opened a New York office and has been operating for
about eight months with a staff of three. They have an on-line site that is searchable using
English keywords at www.agefotostock.com.
They have also distributed two print catalogs and advertise a number of FREE services to
attract customers. They offer Free scans, Free delivery by courier or messenger, Free
research and Free chromes (the customer gets to keep the duplicate chrome of any image they
The "Free chromes" is indicative of the way AGE does business in Europe, but it may present
some problems in the U.S., and particularly New York.
The sales tax laws make a distinction between licensed "reproduction rights" which is
considered a service and "tangible property" which is any product a buyer is allowed to
retain. In this case the chrome would be considered "tangible property."
The sales tax in New York City is 8.25% for "tangible property," but services are not
taxible. New York is particularly agressive about wanting to get their tax. The above
distinction is one that has been carefully negotiated over the years between photo licensers
and the taxing authority, and it represents a very uneasy truce.
It will be interesting to see if AGE actually intends to charge sales tax on every usage fee,
or if they have a plan for "interpreting" the tax laws in a way different from the way every
other stock agency interprets them.
Interestingly, this one small problem is a good illustration as to why U.S. photographers
will need foreign agencies to represent them overseas, and foreign agencies may find it
difficult to set up independent operations here. why it may be better to have a local
agency, that fully understands
There are many local laws and customs around the world and having someone who is fully
familiar with local rules may be an important asset.
AGE may be only the first of many foreign agencies that is likely to set
up shop in the U.S. For many foreign agencies the print catalog business is very strong, but
they have been having a great deal of difficulty finding U.S. agencies who are willing to
distribute their catalogs here in the U.S. As a result, many are seriously considering
setting up operations here, because they are convinced that if the catalogs are distributed
they will generate significant sales.
When you need a distributor, and no one locally is willing to take on the task, then the only
options is to do it yourself.