3ARON TO PAY OUTSTANDING ROYALTIES
October 6, 2005
After closing down her agency on 1 January 2005, Cathy Aron, CEO of Photo Network Stock has notified her photographers of a plan to make full and complete payment of all monies owed for royalties.
In December all photographers will receive a statement outlining all sales that were made on their behalf and the royalties they are owed. At that time they will receive a check for a minimum of 40% of their receivables and the remainder will be paid in 4 or 5 quarterly installments beginning in March 2006.
In recent years due to the consolidation within the industry, the costs of transitioning from analog to digital and the downturn in the U.S. economy in 2003 many agencies have struggled and some have been forced to close their doors.
When it is necessary to close a stock agency there are two key issues that always present problems - what to do with the images and how to pay off the royalties that have accrued, and to some extent will continue to accrue even after the agency has officially closed its doors.
In the past, there are many examples of agencies that have handled the closing of their business very poorly from the point of view of photographers. But in my opinion Cathy Aron has set an example of how to deal fairly with photographers in such a difficult situation.
When it comes to the images ideally photographers would like to see them continue to work rather that be packed up and shipped back to them. But, if continued representation is impossible then they want the images returned so they can do something else with them. Cathy was able to make arrangements with Grant Heilman Photography to take over the file and continue to market the images. Less than a year later some of the photographers are already receiving significant royalty payments from Grant Heilman.
Despite the opportunity be have the images represented by Grant Heilman some photographers wanted their images returned and in most cases that has been accomplished in less than a year. Considering how long it has taken other agencies to organize and return images - even major agencies that have acquired collections - this has been remarkably quick.
From the beginning Aron also assured photographers that they would receive every penny of royalty they were owed. Unfortunately these payments haven't come as quickly as some photographers would like, due to closing down costs and business taxes that needed to be paid.
In her recent letter to photographers she said, "Please understand that I had never planned to be in this situation and never wanted to fall behind in payments to you. I've told you in the past the amount of money that I personally invested in the last couple of years to scan, keyword and upload your images to our website. I never asked for a contribution from you, and that was probably a fatal mistake."
As might be expected there have been a few very vocal complaints from photographers, but most seem satisfied that there has been a clear statement of when payments will be made and they are willing to be patient.
Bill Bachmann, who has been represented by Cathy since 1989, and was one of her more productive photographers, has full confidence that she will pay according to the schedule she has laid out. He said, "I judge people fairly well and Cathy is a good person trying to make good on a bad situation."
Aron is currently executive director of PACA and preparing for the PACA International Conference that will be held in Redondo Beach October 14-16, 2005.