April, 1996 - I just talked to Smithsonian Magazine and they are in the planning stages of putting
a site on-line. Among other things they are trying to develop some standards for
what they will deliver to their programers in the way of file size. Their programers
are asking for a 300dpi file (and no file size specified). Then the programer can sample
the file down to what they eventually decide they need.
Call me paranoid, but I am very uncomfortable about providing a programer with any
more file than he or she actually needs. I can see Smithsonian sending the same
300dpi files they use for separations in the magazine to their outside consultant
programers. These files will be several megabytes in size for even a small image. What kind
of control do they have over the other uses the programers might make of the images?
Do the programers have any understanding of the rights purchased, or of copyright
I'm sure other publications are doing the same thing. We as photographers need to
come up with some specifications for maximum file size (before compression) that
can be used at these online sites and a recommended file size for delivery. If the
image is used large they should pay more money.
Smithsonian is offering photographers an on-line portfolio in lieu of a usage fee
while they try to grow the site. A lot of unsuspecting photographers, who are unsophisticated
about what is possible in the digital environment, are going to give away a lot of images on these portfolio offerings.
Suggestions are welcome.
May, 1996 - Comment: You write about trying to get an accurate count of the number of people
that looked at a specific image. It does not make sense to use site-wide
statistics like number of site vistors or site-hits. It is not necessary
to use these estimates when every web site keeps an exact count of the
number of times each gif file was transferred.
A better way is to price based on hits for EACH FILE and then charge based
on that number.
A fair price is in the neighborhood of 1 to 3 cents per hit. So, for
instance if a particular file was transferred 10,000 times in a given month,
at 2 cents per view it would earn $200 for that month.
This also makes it unnecessary to price according to location on the page
because presumably the title page will have the file displayed more times
than an inside page.
It also makes it unnecessary to specify a time limit, because as long as your
picture is getting hits, you will get paid, so let them have the file
There are details to work out. One, if a picture is used on more than one
page, most browsers will cache the file obviating the need to transfer
it each time. They will also probably be a need for some filtering so that
hits on a particular file can't be pumped up.
Also, I am not making this all up. I have been getting paid according to
a similar scheme for a couple of years now on one of the big online services.
At this time I have about 2000 pictures that are licensed on one service.
May 30, 1996 - Comment: Pricing for advertising space in any media bears a relationship
to consumers affected. In traditional media, more copies are
produced because of subscription increases with a consequent
increase in production costs. However, the relationships
proposed in the article of web pricing are ludicrous.
Hits or visits to a site is a meaningful number; just how
meaningful is yet to be seen. The terms distribution,
circulation and subscriptions have carefully defined meanings.
None of those definitions relates directly to "hits," or to a
basis for costing stock photo use on the web.
A new media creates new definitions. Research by accredited
professionals is underway to measure and define the web. We
can all benefit from this process.
In the interum, cool heads must prevail. Rational assesments
will produce better long term results than paranoid dithering
in areas requiring exceptional training and expertise.