Costco Markets Corbis Imagery as Prints, Posters

Posted on 12/1/2010 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (3)

With the introduction of The Costco Art & Image Gallery, Corbis and Costco will sell individual prints and posters as retail products. The images offered are a select group of some 20,000 professional pieces of fine art, photography and illustration from the Corbis collection of more than 6 million images.

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  • David Sanger Posted Dec 2, 2010
    Jim, a point you didn't mention, that has concerned many photographers, is that Costco is specifically inviting members to resell the Corbis prints.

    The Costco magazine says:

    "The beauty of it is that Costco members can use these top images for all kinds of decorating projects and even for resale.""

    "Possible uses include....countless opportunities for creative businesses to order finished products for resale."

    Though resale is specifically allowed by the First Sale Doctrine, photographers may still be alarmed at such low cost competition with their own fine art print sales.

    Also it is not clear if any such resold prints woudl have any artist attribution.

  • Jim Pickerell Posted Dec 2, 2010
    In their “Frequently Asked Questions” about the merchandise agreement Corbis says, “Once a member has purchased a merchandise item such as a poster or print from the Costco Photo Center, it can be re-sold in their store just like other wholesale merchandise. This is the same as other merchandising arrangements, whereby a poster, greeting card or calendar manufacturer would license a Corbis image for use in its product. The only difference is that in the case of a manufacturer, the Corbis contributor receives an upfront payment for the volume print run, while with the Costco arrangement, contributors receive an individual payment for every unit sold through Costco. Corbis has provided Costco with a very limited product license. The images are not licensed to Costco members by Costco. The Costco member is only purchasing a piece of merchandise. (emphasis mine) They do not receive a license for the image.”<br/><br/>In addition Corbis goes on to point out, “If Costco members have purchased merchandise from the Costco Photo Center, they may advertise the item(s) on their website. They may not advertise images for which they have no inventory; they may not make further reproductions of the purchased prints and posters; and they may not use the digital images from the Art & Image Gallery on their website without permission from Corbis Images. If they are creating a print-on-demand storefront on their website, they must obtain a release from Corbis Images for print-on-demand.”<br/><br/>It seems to me that prints or posters, either initially sold by Costco or resold by a member, will be unlikely to have the artists attribution attached to them. This is similar to the way most Fine Art and Poster uses are licensed today by stock agencies. More and more, in all aspects of the photography business, artists will have to decide whether they can earn more by licensing limited rights to their work for high dollars or by making their work available at much lower prices for a much broader base of customers to see, review and purchase. Advancements in technology have made it impossible to control and limit use in the same ways as were possible in the past. Those who want to continue to hold very tight control of their work may need to withdraw it from stock agencies and market in very limited ways.

  • Gildo nicolo Spadoni Posted Dec 2, 2010
    Oh great ...I'll get more $3 checks.

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