Dreamworks Battles Stock Agencies Over PR Rig

Posted on 8/13/1998 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



August 13, 1998

The Wall Street Journal reports that DreamWorks SKG wants to stop stock agencies from acquiring

and reselling publicity materials. If successful, publishers and other media outlets would need

to get all their images directly from the studios to illustrate their movie-related stories.

Dreamworks is upset because of a photo of Tom Hanks that appeared on July 13th cover of Newsweek

illustrating their "Private Ryan" story. The reason they are upset is that Newsweek story

pre-empted an exclusive cover the studio says it had promised to Time.

The photo used also didn't come from the studios' authorized publicity kit, but was a frame from

the film itself. The photo was licensed to Newsweek for $1,000 by Photofest, a New York stock

photo agency that specialized in distributing legitimate film stills put out by Hollywood


Photofest president Howard Mandelbaum told the WSJ that he bought a 35mm frame of the Hanks and

some others earlier this year at a flea market on Sixth Avenue and 26th Street. He paid $1.00

each for the pictures and has no idea who the dealer was of where he lives.

Patrick Montgomery of Archive Photos in News York told the WSJ, "there's a huge underground

black market in film prints, trailers, anything you want." He also said that while Archive

does a small business in publicity stills, they don't deal in trailer shots.

Major film distributors often send out 20,000 copies of a movie trailer.

In an interview with the WSJ, Mr. Mandelbaum days it was a mistake to sell the "Private Ryan"

slide and he has returned it to the studio. He says he isn't trying to infringe on anyone's

copyright, and that Photofest tries to avoid using material copyrighted by photographers and

other agencies. "We couldn't stay in business if we were bootleggers or rustlers of other

people's copyrighted material," he said.

While it may be difficult to stop people from stealing frames from movies and movie trailers, it

might be fairly easy through legal action to force all legitimate publications to obtain all the

photos they publish directly from the studios.

In the past, the administrative hassle of dealing with countless small publications was one

reason that the studios were happy to have stock agencies and photographers handle the

distribution for them. However, not with digital delivery, it would much less trouble to deal

directly with publications.

DreamWorks marketing chief Terry Press complains that unauthorized images wreak havoc with

studios' elaborate publicity plans, and the contractual rights of many actors to approve

publicity photos.

It is common for studios to make editorial demands on news outlets in exchange for fresh photos.

If the studio is the only source, and they can pick and choose who they allow to receive

images, they can shut out a publication from future images if that publication produces an

unfavorable review.

Copyright © 1998 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 www.selling-stock.com, 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: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


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