Random Thoughts 139

Posted on 6/1/2007 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



June 1, 2007

Free SAA Calculator Simplifies Rights-Managed Image Licensing

The Stock Artists Alliance released an open-source PLUS Packs Calculator, a software tool that streamlines the first step of the image-licensing process and may help reclaim rights-managed revenues lost to the royalty-free model. The calculator augments a line of products by the Picture Licensing Universal System, a multi-industry initiative established in 2004 to standardize image-licensing practices and processes. (It does not address pricing or engage in negotiation.) SAA is a member of the PLUS Coalition.

The SAA calculator is designed to spur adoption of PLUS Packs - a new universal standard that offers a simplified and flexible approach to rights-managed image licensing. The system is equally advantageous to image buyers and distributors. Customers benefit from a user-friendly, efficient process of pricing and licensing rights-managed imagery via a system already supported by Corbis, Getty Images, Jupiterimages and many smaller agencies. Licensing agencies and artists gain greater exposure and opportunities for rights-managed images, particularly customers who have opted for the simplicity of royalty-free licensing.

According to the SAA, image buyers value the quality and diversity of rights-managed collections, but are often deterred by the hassle of the licensing process. Betsy Reid, SAA executive director, says the rise of new media use and the growth of simplified models mean it's critical for the rights-managed model to evolve "if it is to remain relevant and responsive to the changing needs of image users." Reid hopes that the new calculator will spur wider adoption of the new standards, especially by smaller, specialized archives and individual photographers that wish to enhance customer service.

The calculator is easily adopted by licensors for use with each agency's or photographer's pricing data. In a few clicks, customers can then use the easy interface to select and price a pack on one screen. Transactions can be completed in multiple ways: High-volume distributors may integrate the calculator into existing e-commerce systems, while others can conduct business via email or using online payment services. The calculator software and documentation are available for download through SAA at www.stockartistsalliance.org/pluspacks.

Additional PLUS products include a Picture Licensing Glossary and two in development: Media Matrix and License Format. The glossary is designed to facilitate negotiations based on a common understanding of terms. In use since 2005, it is available in hard copy and online at www.useplus.com. The Media Matrix will uniformly specify, catalog and assign billing codes to international media categories. The License Format will be a machine-readable data form, providing a single worldwide standard for describing image licenses.

Corbis Expands Media Management to Audio, Video

By: Julia Dudnik Stern

Corbis just expanded its hosted media-management capabilities by incorporating Rhozet Corp.'s video transcoding technology. Rhozet Carbon Coder is a universal application that facilitates the transfer of media between acquisition, editing, Web and mobile.

The Corbis Media Management platform supports marketing extranets, brand portals and digital asset libraries for clients such as Microsoft, Starbucks and Universal Studios Hollywood. Previously available only for still imagery, the addition of Carbon Coder expands the service to include all audio and video formats.

According to Matt Crandall, director of research and product development at Corbis, video is becoming more prevalent in marketing strategies. "[Our customers] need solutions to manage their video and enable multiple formats, which we can now offer very easily with Carbon Coder," said Crandall.

The rising market demand for video and audio content has caused multiple stock providers to augment their offerings with stock footage, music and various audiovisual formats. However, the Corbis service exemplifies the more interesting trend of the stock industry -- diversifying beyond content licensing. Both Corbis and Getty Images offer media management and artist representation services; Corbis also provides rights representation and clearance.

As image-licensing revenues continue to be severely affected by the abundance of new images, user-generated content and microstock, it is safe to predict that large stock providers will expand their services. Since companies like Corbis and Getty Images have a firm foothold in the creative industries, entry into media buying, design or a host of other closely related areas is not difficult to imagine.

Capture Updates Web Direct, Releases Keyworder

By: Julia Dudnik Stern

Capture, a UK-based developer of Web-based digital asset management systems, has announced two new releases. Capture Web Direct, the company's flagship product, has been updated to include agent-distribution tools, enhanced image-processing capabilities, user-configurable meta tags and a sophisticated content-management system. Capture Keyworder is a new, cross-platform, multilingual metadata system. Compliant with the latest IPTC and XMP standards, the software package includes thesaurus functionality and content, speed features and quality-control tools.

a21 Board Member Resigns

By: Julia Dudnik Stern

a21 announced the resignation of C. Donald Wiggins from its board of directors. Wiggins was designated a director in 2004 by the sellers of SuperStock, a microstock company acquired by a21 in November 2003. Wiggins is an M&A business valuations and finance specialist whose "contributions to a21 have been invaluable," according to Phil Garfinkle, a21 executive chairman.

Microsoft's iView Launches Utility for Corbis Photographers

By: Julia Dudnik Stern

iView Multimedia, the London-based subsidiary of Microsoft Corp., announced that a submission utility for Corbis is now available as a free plug-in for iView MediaPro. MediaPro is a digital asset management tool widely used by professional photographers to catalog, submit and upload their images to stock agency Web sites. The Corbis iView tool automates the image transfer process by first validating photographers' images against specific Corbis submission criteria. The utility joins iView's lineup of similar products that support Alamy, Digital Railroad, Gekko Images and Getty Images.

Fox Buys Photobucket and Flektor

By: Julia Dudnik Stern

Fox Interactive Media announced agreements to purchase Photobucket, a photo and video-sharing Web site, and Flektor, which allows users to create, remix and share audiovisual content by using a set of custom Web-based tools.

FIM currently owns MySpace, IGN Entertainment, FOXSports.com and AmericanIdol.com, boasting over 45 billion page views per month. "The acquisition of these two companies is a perfect strategic fit for us that reinforces FIM's leadership in user-generated content," said Peter Levinsohn, FIM president. Though the terms of either deal were not disclosed, Alex Welch, Photobucket's CEO and co-founder, promises that nothing will change in Photobucket's daily operations.

Google to Acquire Panoramio

By: Julia Dudnik Stern

Established by developers from Spain and Germany in 2005, Panoramio is a community Web site that enables photographers to geo-locate, store and organize their images. Google, which has incorporated these images into its Google Earth and Google Maps products since 2006, just announced its plans to wholly acquire Panoramio this summer.

Panoramio's unique feature is geo-location: Each photo is not only referenced by its content but by the location where it was taken. Panoramio's inventory of geo-referenced photos exceeds 1 million images from around the world. It includes the most popular travel and tourist locations alongside photos of the North Pole and Antarctica. As of March, Panoramio is available in 30 languages, and its 300,000 registered users upload 20,000 new photos per day.

Photos from Panoramio are currently a default layer in Google Earth and are represented by small blue compass icons. Google's acquisition of Panoramio will incorporate the entire operation - including the Web site, its underlying technology, content, developers and user community - into the Google Geo product mix. Both companies believe they are a great fit with each other's technology, team and culture. A deeper relationship will add value and enhance user experience.

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, and Google executives say no immediate changes will occur. All data rights will transfer, unmodified, from Panoramio to Google upon close of the transaction. Current Panoramio users not wishing to make the move will be given an opportunity to opt out, which would include the removal of their images from the database. In the first stages of the transition, all accounts, passwords, photos and site features will remain the same.

Copyright © 2007 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 301-251-0720, 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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