New Group Proposes iPad Photo Use Fees to Publishers

Posted on 9/27/2010 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

As we move forward in the digital publication age, a group of celebrity photo agencies has untied into the Editorial Photo Agency Guild, which is leading the way in attempting to establish some pricing principles for the use of photos in iPad applications. The need for a unified approach in bargaining became apparent when People magazine announced its plans to launch an iPad application and provide it free to print subscribers.

Time Inc. has not specified what exactly this app would offer, but photos will clearly be a core component. It is uncertain whether content not available in the print edition will be made available through the app, but that would seem an obvious extension of the capabilities—if not at launch, then soon thereafter.

Currently, online photo uses represent a fraction of the fees photo agencies earn for print uses, but agencies recognize that the tablet market may be a game-changer. A recent review conducted by five of the world’s leading publishers concluded that subscription revenue of interactive periodicals could reach $3 billion by 2014. There have been no estimates as to how much additional advertising revenue might bring.

EPAG has proposed to more than 100 U.S. publications the following additional fees for image uses on the iPad and other e-reader products.

1) Include iPad/e-reader usage in current print pricing by adding a $50 minimum for red carpet or $100 minimum for candid non-exclusives, or add 25% to the print price agreed, whichever is the greater, for the first 6 months, 50% for the following 6 months, and 100% of the current fee paid after 1 year. Exclusives to be negotiated each time.

2) Images used independently of the print edition would be paid at 100% of the estimated print rate. Recognizing that electronic platforms are new, EPAG is prepared to ramp this up at 50% of the estimated print price for the first 6 months. After 6 months, the organization plans to renegotiate these fees based on iPad and e-reader traffic, ad revenue and market share.

3) All images used need to be reported to the relevant agency in a mutually acceptable format.

EPAG members emphasized: “We remain extremely dedicated to offering the best images in order to bring to your readers the best experience possible. We would like to take this opportunity to set up a short meeting with you to discuss the potential for this new service offering and how best to work together on making it a success.”

Free or fee

Whether the app should be available to subscribers for free, or whether a fee should be charged has been the subject of a dispute between Apple and Time for several months. Apple normally takes a cut of the cost of app downloads. If there is no cost, there is no cut for Apple. A one-year subscription to People costs about $100, and it had just under 2.3 million subscribers as of June 30. By making the app available free to subscribers, People is certain to see its download numbers on the iPad store, a closely watched industry metric, rise. One would assume that Apple has negotiated some type of payment from Time for each app download, but that has not been specified.

Time has also said it believes that adding digital products to its print subscriptions makes the subscriptions more valuable for print advertising, which is still far more lucrative than digital advertising. If People is now able to charge more for its ads and begins to include video ads and digital versions of print ads in its iPad app, one would assume that Apple would want to share in that revenue.

Time says that it plans to offer the same bundled model for its other magazine iPad apps. Other magazine publishers have no plans to give digital content away as part of a print subscription. Condé Nast, for example, is devising a pricing structure for print-digital packages, where prices are expected to exceed current subscription rates.

The big question that will play out in the near future is whether giving apps away for free makes it possible to sell more ads at a higher fee, thus earning more than could be earned by charging a separate subscription fee for the apps.

The member agencies of EPAG are Abaca, Admedia, Bauer-Griffin, BEImages, Big Pictures, BuzzFoto, Celebrity Photo Agency, Elevation, Fame Pictures, INF, PacificCoastNews, PictureGroup, PhotoLink, RameyPix, RexUSA, Sipa Press, Splash, Star Max, Startraks and WENN. The two big guns in the editorial image world—Getty Images and Corbis—have yet to participate in EPAG or put their weight behind these proposals.

Copyright © 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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