Multimedia Usage

Posted on 6/18/1996 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)


Multimedia Usage

June 18, 1996

Recently I received a request from World Book Publishing
which was interested in acquiring rights for CD-ROM and on-line versions
of the World Book Multimedia Encyclopedia.

They requested English language reuse rights throughout the world to
an image of the Marine Corps War Memorial. I presume everyone who has pictures
in the existing print edition has received a similar request.

In addition to normal publishing rights they specified that users of
the products would be able to print a hard copy of the page and they would
be able to "copy the low resolution image to the Windows or Mac clipboard
and then paste it into other documents."

They added, "Please note, this would in no way give users the right
to publish the image(s)." However, it is hard for me to make a distinction
between placing an image in other documents and publishing. To me, it's
the same thing.

World Book said that due to budget limitations they were offering a
$150 for this use. I sent them a bill for $400. My daughter thinks I still
undercharged. I suspect there were a number of sellers who accepted the
$150 offer without comment. There are a number of things to be considered
with this type of use.

First of all, because there was no limitation on the number of copies
or the length of time the image could be used it is certainly possible
that it would be used for years and years without any additional compensation.
I offered to give them a better price if they would place some time limits
on the use.

Reuse fees are an important part of overall compensation and part of
the justification for accepting relatively modest initial use fees. If
the additional fees disappear then there is no way we can afford to continue
to produce images for the low initial fees publishers want to pay. I have
a picture of the Watergate hearings that has been earning me a reuse fee
every year or two for over 20 years.

We also need to carefully consider the implications of an encyclopedia
of images that can be inserted into other documents. Granted these are
low resolution images, but if the "other documents" are on-line
documents these images will be perfectly satisfactory. They will also be
satisfactory for a lot of business publication uses that might be internally
produced using laser printers or printing-on-demand systems. If pasting
into another documents is authorized, how many copies of that document
can be produced? Can they reproduce enough for a business meeting? Can
they reproduce enough for a college class? Is it clear to anyone what is
authorized in this situation?

Publishers don't want a royalty system, or any other system that would
provide additional compensation as sales or usage increase, but they don't
want to make up front payments equal to the real value of the image either.
I sympathize with their problem of not wanting to pay huge up front costs
for a new, untested, venture, but if we are going to help them during start
up we need some assurance we will be adequately compensated when the project
becomes a success.

Now for the good news! Just before going to press, and a month
after I had submitted my invoice, I received a purchase order for $400.
There was no attempt to try to negotiate. They just agreed to pay my price.

Rules for supplying feedback


Amalyah Keshet

September 9, 1996 --We received the same request from World Book Publishing,
offering $50 -- yes, $50.00.

I wrote them back stating that we could not license under the (oxymoronic)
conditions offered: " Printing out an image at the usual screen resolution
limit of 72dpi produces a degraded second-generation image which is useful
as a "sketch (something a student can paste into his school report),
but cannot be further re-purposed. Allowing transfer of the digital file
"to the Windows or Mac clipboard and then paste it into other documents"
is a very good desription of re-purposing.

World Book is, in effect, both providing the means and implying license
to the end user to take these images and do with them what he wishes via
his own computer. Therefore their proviso to the effect that "this
would in no way give users the right to publish the images(s)" doesn't
stand up. By allowing users free access to take the digital files, they
are supplying them with the property licensed to you, not to them -- exactly
as if they were to borrow a 4x5" color transparency from us, and then
pass it on to a third party for him to use.

In addition, please note that CD-ROM and "on-line" are two
separate products with two separate distribution systems. Usually, a fee
is paid for each as would be for a book + video cassette deal..."

They wrote back that they agreed to block the print & copy functions,
per our request.

In the end, we took the $50 (it was a small, black/white image), and
I thoroughly regret having done so. I certainly learned something (again!)
from the experience. Thanks to Taking Stock Online for the information
& feedback.

Amalyah Keshet Director, Visual Resources Dept. The Israel Museum,

Copyright © 1996 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:  


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