Are Photogs Being Credited And Paid Properly?

Posted on 5/16/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

In 1968 Andy Sacks, a 20-year-old University of Michigan photographer, covered Robert F. Kennedy’s campaign stop in Detroit for the student newspaper, The Michigan Daily. It turned out that was three weeks before Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles.

Sacks along with nine other photographers and TV cameramen traveled in a convertible that trailed Kennedy's. One of the other photographers was legendary Life magazine photojournalist Bill Eppridge.

Sacks went on to have a very successful career as a professional photojournalist. In the 70s and 80s he did a lot of shooting in Detroit for Time, Newsweek and business magazines. His work has been represented by Getty Images since the company’s founding when it acquired the Tony Stone Images collection. Currently he has about 750 images in the Getty Creative collection and 85 in the Editorial collection. In the last ten years he has concentrated on producing documentaries, and stock video for Getty and other agencies.

For many years after the Kennedy event in Detroit Sacks’ images remained in his own personal collection, but in 2006 Getty launched a Reportage Division and Sacks decided to submit 15 of the best images from his Kennedy shoot to that collection. The image in question, number 72775639 was among them.

Nothing happened for many years. While Sacks received regular monthly sales reports of his other work at Getty, it seemed that none of the Kennedy images were ever licensed.

Then one day in late 2017 Paul Lee, a friend who has also written about RFK, emailed to congratulate him after spotting one of Sacks’ photos on the cover of “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit,” a best-selling biography of Kennedy, written by Chris Matthews of MSNBC and published by Simon & Schuster.

Curious, Sacks found a copy of the book, but the cover was credited to Bill Eppridge. The image looked like his, but since they stood elbow-to-elbow in the convertible it might have been Bill’s. But, after carefully comparing the cover image with his own on the Getty site it was clear that it was his picture on the cover. The credit line on the Getty site clearly said Andrew Sacks/Getty Images.

Later, Caroline Warshaw of Simon & Schuster and their inhouse counsel, both acknowledged that the original layout for the dust jacket had included a picture taken by Eppridge. At the last minute they chose to go with Sacks’ picture instead of Eppridge’s but they forgot to change the credit line.

After four printings, more than 250,000 copies “Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit” have been sold and it made the Times best-seller list. In early may of this year art department staffer, Warshaw, told Sacks that Simon & Schuster has a substantial unsold inventory still on hand, all books with the credit error. The publisher has promised to credit Sacks in future printings, but has not made clear when or whether it will publish a dust jacket with his name on it.

But, what about payment? Since the image was licensed in April 2017 from Getty the credit mistake doesn’t explain why Sacks had not received a royalty payment for use of the image.

Further examination of records by Getty and sent to Sacks showed that since 2007 Getty has made 260 sales of the RFK pix and of those, 184 licenses were written (to Pinterest) for license amounts less than four cents, ($0.04). Total royalty owed Sacks for his 50% share of sales was $7,601.

Getty told Sacks it has been crediting his share of the licensing fees to the New York Times' Photo Archives and to multiple different organizations. It turns out that NYT Photo Archive is now being represented by Redux Pictures, but they told Sacks earlier this year they have no record of being paid anything for the use of the RFK images.

Recently, Getty has sent Sacks twice the fees he is due saying they felt bad about their error.

For photographers who supply images to Getty this raises all kinds of questions.
    1 – Have they been paid for all uses of their images, or is someone else being paid for some uses?
    2- Have they been properly credited for every time their images are used, or is someone else being credited when a credit is given?
    3 – How sloppy are the accounting procedures when licenses are repeatedly credited to the wrong account?
    4 – Is there a need for an audit?
Sacks has yet to file a lawsuit. If he can reach a decent settlement with the publisher, he would like to devote some of those funds to establishing an endowed scholarship to the University of Michigan for a student interested in photojournalism, "to pass on the opportunity that I had working at a college paper. It gave me a jump start on a career."

Most importantly, Sacks wants recognition for capturing a singular moment in his country's political life. He told Brian Dickerson, Detroit Free Press columnist, "This is a history book, a book Chris Matthews wrote to document the life and times of an extraordinary figure. I'm sure he [Matthews] would certify that every fact he asserts in it is true, and that every quotation he uses is attributed correctly.

"But 250,000 copies have gone to press with the wrong photographer's name on the dust jacket. I'd like them to do something about that,” he adds.

Copyright © 2018 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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