Random Thoughts 127

Posted on 11/28/2006 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



November 28, 2006

Getty Launches Beta Test Of New Site

Getty Images has announced the public launch of gettyimages.com beta, a groundbreaking new site that merges the latest technology with the most relevant industry trends to create innovative and more efficient ways to find and deliver imagery and related products and services. The site can be viewed by going to http://beta.gettyimages.com

One of the most significant features of this update is that for the first time customers can search the entire collection of more than 9 million editorial and creative images. The current default is to look only at the Editorial images, but with one click the user can add all the creative collection as well. Getty says that the creation of the beta site was focused on the workflow and requirements of editorial customers, but creative customers can preview the benefits of the new site as well.

While the site features noticeable cosmetic improvements, its most significant enhancements focus on greater productivity. Visitors to beta.gettyimages.com will be able to:

  • Filter a single database of more than nine million editorial and creative images in a matter of seconds, thanks to a revolutionary "contextual refinement" feature that can replace wading through pages of thumbnails with a few intuitive clicks

  • Enjoy a more responsive user interface and a more intuitive navigation structure that quickly highlights the most relevant images

  • Select from among a range of easy customization and personalization options that quickly tailor the site to each user's preferences

  • Experience near-real-time indexing -- with even faster access to the newest editorial imagery from around the world thanks to the patent-pending Automated Metadata Process (AMP)

  • Conduct original searches with an AMP-enabled, fully localized search engine in German, Spanish and English (U.S. and UK), always the standard for Getty Images Creative imagery searches, and now available for Editorial imagery

  • Avoid wasting time with improved features that reduce "no-result" searches, misspellings and unclear search terms

  • Submit feedback on the quality of their experience that will help shape future site features

The existing gettyimages.com site is the industry leader with over four million unique visitors each month and customers run more than a million searches every day. The beta site is launching after nearly 9,000 hours of global customer research, extensive design and testing. As even more customer input is collected throughout the public beta phase, Getty Images will periodically post updates and introduce new features on the site.

A full site re-launch, with significant enhancements and feature upgrades focused on the specialized needs of creative customers, is planned for mid 2007.

Corbis Names Gary Shenk President

Corbis has appointed Gary Shenk to the position of President. Shenk will continue to report to Corbis CEO Steve Davis, and assumes some of the responsibilities formerly held by Davis in his dual role as President and CEO.

Shenk's new role is part of a broader realignment of the company's go-to-market functions into an integrated team, and he will assume oversight of marketing, sales, and the creative resources businesses.

During his tenure with Corbis, Shenk has earned a reputation as an industry visionary with the passion and operational skills to transform and grow successful businesses. Most recently as SVP of Images, he has overseen Corbis' image licensing business. Previously, Shenk led the growth of Corbis' industry-leading Rights Services offering.

Davis said, "Under Gary's capable leadership, we have significantly improved our product quality and execution in Corbis' image licensing business. It is only natural in this intense competitive environment that we expand Gary's role to drive our complete range of go-to-market activities."

In addition to his new responsibilities as President, Shenk will continue to direct Corbis' image licensing business including product management, strategic partnerships and photographer relations. See the full press release in Story 901.

Amana Images

A consolidation of Japanese stock photo agencies into a company called amama images will be established on January 1, 2007. The company will be an independent company, but 100% owned by amama group. The companies being integrated into this one organization are Orion, IPJnet, Sebun Photo and amana's stock photo division.

As a step toward this integration amana images started operating from two new offices in separate Tokyo locations on November 13th. The offices are at: 5F Yamawaki Bldg, 4-8-21 Kudan-Minami, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan 102-0074 and 2-2-43 Higashi Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo, Japan 140-0002.

Orion Service and Trading Co., Inc. has transferred all rights and obligations to Sebun Photo Ltd. by way of an absorption-type merger that will become effective on January 1, 2007.

The latest publicly available numbers for Orion and Sebun are approximately $9.8 million U.S. (1.5 billion Japanese yen) for Orion for the fiscal year ending March 2005 and approximately $8.3 million U.S. (980 million Japanese yen) for Sebun for the fiscal year ending October 2005.

For additional information contact Mio Kinouchi at kinouchi@amana.jp.

Corbis Wins $20 Million Judgement Against Template Monster And Others

A court in Miami has awarded Corbis $20,247,500 in statutory damages and $118,145 in attorneys' fees in a suit that Corbis brought suit against Igor Lognikov, Templatemonster.com and a dozen other defendants who were accused of illegally using and reselling 623 Corbis images.

The judgment prohibits the seven defendants from infringing the 623 images in the future and orders the destruction of all copies in the defendants possession.

Template Monster offers customers web site templates that can be easily download over the Internet and customized to fit the customer's web site needs. Most of these templates have images and the vast majority of the images have been used without ever making any effort to obtain permission. Corbis discovered that Template Monster was using at least 623 of its images.

Template Monster has removed the offending images belonging to Corbis and entered into an agreement with Fotolia to supply them with images in the future. The judgment did not require Template Monster has removed any of the other unlicensed images that can be found on its site.

Corbis is now exploring the possibility of collecting on the judgment. David Weiskopf , senior corporate counsel at Corbis, said, "Just because you have a piece of paper that gives you a judgment doesn't mean you can go out and fill your savings account with a lot of money." Corbis is now evaluating how this kind of judgment might be collectable and this is something that happens outside of court proceedings.

The Cover Story Terminates Stock Photo Operation

The Cover Story (TCS) agency based in the Netherlands has filed for bankruptcy and closed its stock photo operation. The remaining assets of the company have been purchased by Jan-Poul Douma who will continue to manage the feature story licensing part of the original business.

Originally TCS was an agency that focused primarily on distributing feature stories, accompanied by photos, to magazines in Europe, Asia and South America. In 2000 it also began representing Corbis in the Netherlands and made investments in staff and infrastructure to build the stock photo side of the business.

That worked fine until 2005 when Corbis purchased zefa. zefa owned Benelux Press an already well established agency in the Netherlands market. Thus, they no longer needed to work through a second non-owned agency to represent Corbis images in the Netherlands. Corbis gave TCS as much advance notice as possible, but eventually terminated its relationship and this left TCS with not enough stock photo sales to support its operation.

Writers for TCS have been notified that as of October 31, 2006 Plaasaa BV has taken over the feature activities of TCS, but is not responsible for former obligations. It will carry on the business under its trusted original name 'The Cover Story' and will keep developing TCS's role as a supplier of features (complete packages of text and imagery).
TCS will concentrate features ranging from small, light packages to larger and more serious reportage material.

Photographers Receiving Photolibrary Payments

Photographers have begun to receive the first payments from Photolibrary for the past six months on Index Stock sales. One photographer received a check for over $4,000 and this was over and above the approximately $2,000 he had already received from Index during the last six months.

He had received less than $1,000 from Index for all of 2005 and just a little over $2,000 for all of 2004 so he wasn't expecting much and had actually given up sending Index any new material some time ago. Given the very low returns for the previous years he is now anticipating the possibility of another nice check once the audit is complete.

In commenting about Photolibrary he said, "it's nice to be able to deal with someone who follows through on what they promise."

Cannibalizing Customer Base

A reader recently wrote about a seminar he attended at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. The seminar was aimed at middle level managers and concerned marketing strategies and customer habits. The teacher said a company can get market share for a new product in its line by stealing some from competitors, finding new and fresh customers, or cannibalizing its current customer base.

During a break this reader mentioned to the teacher that he was in an industry where the leading company seems to be doing some of all three, including the last, and with a product much cheaper than its customers were used to paying. The teacher said that her favorite example of a company that goes after its own customers with new products is Gillete. "They're always introducing razors that contain more cutting blades, and cost more than their established models. It's unusual and alarming when a company goes in the other direction," she said.

The writer suggested that Mr. Klein may be pioneering a new business strategy.

Integration and Payment Problems

I've heard from several photographers recently whose agencies have been acquired by one of the big three. Now these photographers are discovering that their royalties are not being paid on time, or correctly.

In several of the cases it seems that the photographer had negotiated a special arrangement with his original agency. When that agency was acquired the specifics of that agreement seem to have been lost or misplaced, and the photographer is now being treated as if he had a standard agreement.

It is not too surprising that in the process of integrating one accounting system with another some of the subtleties built into the original system may be overlooked, or are not dealt with initially. It seems likely that in order to get the bulk of the records transferred and operational in the new system and up and running as quickly as possible the new owner might treat every photographer as if he of she had a standard contract.

The important point for photographers to recognize is that if, when negotiating their original contracts, they had made any changes in the agencies standard contract they need to examine their royalty statements very carefully to make sure they are being paid according to what was negotiated.

Anthony Harris Leaves Getty

Many photographers who have worked with him are very sorry to hear that Anthony Harris, who was formerly Vice President of Photographer Relations at Getty Images has left as a result of the recent downsizing. Anthony intends to stay in the business and if you would like to stay in touch his contact details are: phone - +44 (0)7771 802668, email - ant.harris123@btinternet.com

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 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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