Index Photographers To Be Paid

Posted on 11/6/2006 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



November 6, 2006

Photographers and image suppliers to Index Stock Imagery welcome the news that after years of delay they will finally be given sales reports and paid royalties for the usage of their images.

The new owner, Photolibrary Group, has sent a letter to photographers promising to send royalty checks in "a week or two" for all sales made by Index Stock in the last six months and to pay according to contract going forward from November 1st when they took over.

More importantly KPMG, one of the big four international auditing firms, has been hired to do a complete forensic audit of the books which is expected to take about six months. Once that audit is complete other royalties from earlier periods that are discovered to still be owed to photographers will be paid. It is not clear at this point how far back this audit will go as there are indications that the problems of delayed and non-payment to image suppliers goes back at least four or five years. According to Glenn Parker, CEO, Photolibrary Group, "We are committed to see that everyone is paid what they are owed."

It is important to recognize that this accusation was not an "asset purchase" which might limit Photolibrary's obligations for past debts. Photolibrary bought all the shares of the company and thus is responsible for all past debts.

In the Photolibrary system, the most comprehensive general site is About 150,000 of the Index Stock images will be added to the 2 million image photolibrary site. The entire photolibrary offering will be promoted in the U.S. Most of the other brands that Photolibrary purchased, prior to Index Stock, have been niche collections (See brand list in Story 890). Photolibrary has maintained each of the existing web sites of those brands as well as putting some images from each collection into its general photolibrary collection.

Parker says that his first goal, after paying the photographers, is to work out a future "brand strategy" for the Index Stock offerings. When asked about the low end products that Index currently offers he said, "There is certainly a market for the low end products, but we won't necessarily handle them in the same way. It may not make sense to offer low and high end products on the same platform."

Audit Process

While Parker expects the audit to be completed in six months, image suppliers should not be surprised if a comprehensive audit of a number of years of sales takes longer than six months. At this point Photolibrary does not have a clear picture of the condition of the books and it may take a long time to reconcile each past transaction. In past stock agency audits that I have been involved with it was discovered that in some cases invoices did not clearly identify whose images were actually being licensed. When that was the case tracking who should be paid royalties was time consuming and difficult as there was no easy way to determine who should receive a royalty share. I have no knowledge that this is a problem at Index Stock, but it points up the possible difficulties of sloppy accounting practices.

Audits have also uncovered missing invoices for some of the revenue generated making it difficult to know how that revenue should be shared. Finally, it is unclear whether such a forensic audit will seek to examine the books of the many other agencies around the world that have been authorized to license rights to Index Stock images, or whether the auditors will simply accept that all payments and reports from these agencies are accurate? Going into the books of other agencies could add an order of magnitude to the problem and greatly extend the time needed to complete an audit.

At the very least all invoices must be matched against payments and then each item listed on the invoice needs to be matched against the photographer's account. Only then can it be determined exactly what each photographer is owed. Considering the low fees charged in many cases there will be a huge number of transactions to justify.

Index suppliers have reported cases where they discovered a use of their image, but were never paid. When they checked with Index they were told, "That usage got credited to the wrong account. Now, we've made the correction and here is your money." How often this kind of thing has happened and not been caught by the photographer, we don't know.

Once paying photographers and brand strategy are dealt with the next step will be to edit the approximately 250,000 low-res images and determine which ones should be scanned to hi-res. Further down the road a decision will need to be made as to what will be done with the very extensive film files that are currently being stored, but which are almost never accessed in today's digital environment. No decision has been made at this point, but it seems likely that at sometime down the road most of these film images will be returned to the photographers.

Widespread industry rumors from many sources are that the only payment made for the Index Stock Imagery stock was an agreement to assume a certain level of the debt. Some place this debt figure at $900,000. There are also rumors that Photolibrary has been talking to other U.S. agencies and may make additional acquisitions. As would be expected Parker refused to confirm or deny any of these rumors.

Copyright © 2006 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, 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:  


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