Corbis to Liquidate Sygma

Posted on 5/21/2010 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

In a letter to its contributors, Corbis has disclosed it will be seeking liquidation of the Sygma business entity in France. The company acquired Sygma in 1999 and has had numerous well-publicized legal and management issues with the former agency’s photographers, staff and assets.

Sygma will soon be handed over to a French tribunal, which will make all following decisions. According to Corbis, the company has been forced into liquidation by very large settlement awards in cases of missing Sygma images—cases that began prior to Corbis’ acquisition of the archive—and still-ongoing legal actions.

The Bill Gates-owned company says it has spent millions in attempting to resolve issues stemming from Sygma’s lax image library management. For example, in 2005, Corbis settled with Sygma photographer Arthur Grace, whose lawsuit alleged that thousands of his images were lost or damaged. At the time, Corbis executives admitted to poor inventory practices and chose to settle the matter.

Corbis also spent close to $20 million on the Sygma Access and Preservation Initiative. The preservation initiative began in 2004. Since then, Corbis archivists reorganized the collection to reclassify it by photographer and opened an 8,600-square-foot temperature and humidity-controlled facility near Paris to house 50 million negatives, prints, transparencies and contact prints. Corbis intends to continue maintaining the facility.

As part of the preservation initiative, Corbis also worked to negotiate agreements with more than 10,000 Sygma contributors. Corbis says that most of these photographers have signed on to have their archival Sygma images distributed by Corbis—which means that the vast majority of the images in the Sygma collection will remain available at after the liquidation of the business entity.

“We would like to reassure you that this affects only a very small part of the Corbis business and is an isolated situation, specific to one of our French business entities.

Please note that this will not affect your representation agreements with Corbis Corporation or any other Corbis business entities outside of France,” reads the letter from the Corbis contributor relations team, which invites further inquiries by email.

So what does this mean? Sygma images remain available, largely through Corbis—and when not, through the original photographers’ collections, distributors and estates. The hard-copy materials have been preserved for posterity in the Sygma Access and Preservation Facility, which appears to be a separate business entity not subject to the liquidation proceedings. It seems that the only thing that changes is that the business carrying the Sygma name will no longer exist, and Corbis can eliminate the drain of Sygma’s $92-million debt on the rest of the company’s operations. In short, those owed by the Sygma business entity are highly unlikely to collect on those debts—as is the case with any bankruptcy proceeding.

Paul Melcher offers additional insight gleaned from French-language press coverage.

Copyright © Julia Dudnik Stern. 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


Be the first to comment below.

Post Comment

Please log in or create an account to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive email notification when new stories are posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More

More from Free Stuff