498 CREATIVE EYE SEEKS ADDITIONAL FUNDS
August 17, 2002
Creative Eye (CE) is asking member photographers for an additional assessment of $750 in
order to keep its doors open beyond October 1, 2002. Creative Eye was founded a little
over a year ago in an attempt to save the MIRA stock photo database that was originally
developed by ASMP.
If a sufficient number of members do not agree by August 23rd to this funding assessment
CE has said it will begin the process of an orderly shut down as of September 1st.
CE was founded as a cooperative and received some initial organizational funding from the
National Cooperative Bank. But, only a few months after their launch the NCB re-evaluated
it's loan portfolio and withdrew all promises of future funding.
In January 2002 CE said it had a budget of over $1 million for 2002 and a best case
scenario of revenues of $500,000 for the year. To solve this budget shortfall they asked
members to purchase preferred stock in the company at $1,000 per share.
Members pledged $180,000 but CE has only been able to actually collect $115,000 of that
amount. Members have been told that if they do not agree to the new $750 assessment and
pay the money promptly their images will be withdrawn from the Creative Eye database.
CE has approximately 800 to 900 members, but it is believed that a large percentage of
these individuals have not provided any images for the MIRA database at this time. Sources
estimate that more than one-third of the members need to agree to pay the assessment if
the organization is to remain viable. On the other hand there is no fixed number required
to support the assessment for the resolution to pass. The CE board will review the vote
and make a determination as to whether to continue operations, or not.
Currently, the average monthly image licensing revenue is in the range of $13,000 leaving
CE far short of their estimated revenues of $500,000 per year. Nevertheless, this is more
than double what the image database was producing under the previous management of the
Copyright Clearance Center.
When MIRA was originally founded almost ten years ago a decision was made to allow
photographers to post any images they wanted on the site. This quickly led to a bloating
of the file which is estimated at be about 50,000 images currently. Many of these images
of very marginal interest to most image buyers. While there are great images in the
collection -- and most of the images added recently are very marketable -- many image
buyers have expressed the general impression of a weak offering due to the lack of
When CE took over they instituted an editing policy, and that coupled with an improved
search engine operated by Stock Media has greatly improved the look of the site and the
offering. The lack of funding has also made it impossible for CE to promote the site in
the way they had hoped.
What The Future Holds
In view of the current uncertainties, photographers ought to request copies of their
scans and keywords, as soon as possible. This would enable them to be prepared to do
something else with these digital files if CE is no longer able to adequately represent
the images. Given the lack of funds and the pressure on the CE management at the present
time it might be best if photographers could organize themselves collectively to make such
a request -- rather than each photographer sending a personal e-mail to the CE office.
Photographers could authorize a representative to act on their behalf and provide funds
for the copying. This would make it possible for the copying to be done in an expeditious
manner without further burdening the CE staff or adding to the company's expense.
Many CE members fear that if CE folds there will be no other way for them to license their
images. They are concerned that the efforts they have put forth so far -- and the money
spent to scan and keyword images -- will have been wasted. This is unlikely to be the
The digital scans and keyworded have value. Undoubtedly several small to medium sized
image sellers will be interested in taking over management of the images currently online.
These agents will expect the photographers to agree to adjustments in their current
contracts. It is likely that they will also want to edit the file and may choose not to
represent some of the images currently online. Any agent taking over would be unwilling to
take on any of the liabilities or debt that CE has incurred to date. But, it is important
to recognize that there are options to be explored and opportunities for negotiation if
the board decides that it is time for CE to terminate operations and close its doors.
Undoubtedly such negotiations will take place.
For more information about Creative Eye see our previous stories