340 RANDOM THOUGHTS 23
September 29, 2000
Steve Powell has told Allsport photographers at the Olympics that he will be leaving his
position as President of the Editorial and Press Division of Getty Images and retiring.
In a Morgan Stanley/Dean Witter report investors were recently told that the Magazine sales
represent 4% of the gross sales of Getty Images and other Publishing represents 8% of sales.
With gross sales expected to be $480 million in 2000 that would put Getty's worldwide
Magazine sales at about $19.2 million and Publishing sales at $38.4 million.
One of the interesting things about these figures is that Getty's percentages are so low. We
believe that in excess of 30% of the stock photo market worldwide is for editorial and
publishing uses which would also include editorial web uses. Editorial uses are much
stronger in Europe than they are here in the U.S. Getty's percentages would indicate that
they are making weak penetration into this significant segment of the stock photography
Exactly! To Offer New Service for Stock Photographers
Exactly! plans to unveil a new stock marketing service for photographers at Photo+Expo East
on November 2nd. They say the service will address the needs of photographers (and buyers)
and significantly improve the way photographers do business.
This will be a FREE service. They also say it will be fueled by aggressive marketing and
backed by outstanding support to enable photographers to make much more money.
They plan to start accepting photos in November and intend to go live to art buyers in
Barbara Roberts, former president of FPG, is on the board of Exactly! and Rebecca Taylor,
formerly with FPG, is currently putting together the package that will explain the offering
CEO Ridgely Evers had an impressive package of financing when he launched Exactly! a year
ago. However, there are reports that sales have not been as high as anticipated, that he has
burned through a lot of capital and that he is not paying some of his outside consultants
claiming lack of funds.
For more information go to
Department of Justice Investigation
The Department of Justice has told the Washington Post that their investigation of Corbis and
Getty for monopoly practices were closed in July.
Forbes Analyzes Getty's Accounting Practices
Forbes magazine has published an interesting article analyzing the accounting practices of
Getty Images. You can read the full text of
Image Problem at the Forbes
Ammended TIB Contracts
TIB photographers are receiving a contract amendment that in theory would provide them with a
better guarantee of return of images than is in their existing contracts. The amendment also
deals with other points that a group of over 100 photographers has been requesting for
One of the problems is that this document is structured to amend only the most recent version
of the contract. It refers to certain specific paragraphs which are not part of the
contracts many photographers have signed. The vast majority of TIB photographers have older
versions of the full contract and do not want to sign the latest version because it is much
more restrictive than their older contract. Without first signing the newest version of the
full contract they can not take advantage of the provisions in the amendment.
The Stock Market and Corbis
It looks like we are only days away from The Stock Market closing its deal with Corbis. For
more than two months sources have been saying it will be signed "in a couple weeks." The
latest comment was "in a few days." We have stopped holding our breath.
Meanwhile many TSM photographers have reported in the last few months that their checks are
smaller than they have been in a long time and that larger deductions than normal are being
taken out of the checks for catalog and duping fees.
It appears that at least one of the issues in contention between Steedman and Corbis is how
Steedman will be compensated for past catalog fees that were paid up front by The Stock
Market and are an obligation for the photographers to pay.
One option would be for Corbis to pay Steedman for that additional equity as part of the
purchase price of the company. That does not seem to be happening so Steedman has resorted
to trying to recapture as much of that money as possible before he finally signs the
agreement with Corbis.
The photographers are not happy with the speed of these deductions -- and thus the small
checks -- but since it is a recognized obligation, and there is no contractual prohibition
against TSM recovering the money immediately after the catalog is distributed there is little
recourse for the photographers.
Word has been floating around the industry that Corbis lost $50 million last year. As best
we can determine this story has absolutely no basis in fact.
Most recently the story appeared on September 17th in the London Observer, a newspaper
normally considered to be reliable. I have no idea where this story got started, but I first
saw the information on an on-line photographer forum.
As a privately held company, Corbis does not disclose profit and loss figures, even
internally, so there are very few people who have any access to profit and loss information.
Corbis has reported that it's 1999 revenues grew by 40% over the previous year, NOT counting
any revenues from the previous year. Of course 1998 revenues might have been very low. It
is also conceivable that costs grew faster than revenues, but as far as we can tell there is
no factual basis for the $50 million number.
Corbis and Sygma
Corbis' problems with the Sygma photographers continue. At the annual photojournalist
conference in Perpignan, France in early September, Corbis further angered photographers with
their on-again, off-again plans for a press conference, and their failure to deal with key
issues when they finally agreed to talk.
Prior to the event a major press conference was scheduled, but when an internal strategy memo
as to how to "handle" photographer complaints was leaked to photographers and published in
PDN prior to the opening of Perpignan the press conference was canceled. Finally, toward the
end of the week Corbis decided they needed to have a press conference rather than look like
they were afraid to face photographers.
According to those in attendance, CEO Steve Davis made a presentation, and said there would
be 30 minutes for questions at the end of the formal presentation. But when the question
time arrived, when no one had stood up to ask a question after 15 or 20 seconds Davis said,
"OK, if there are no questions, that's it. Thank you for coming," and left the hall.
Photographers, waiting for someone else to go first, blame themselves for not having been
better organized, but are still left with a lot of unanswered questions. About all that can
be said is that tensions still remain high and many Sygma photographers are looking for other
One of the photographers who has left Sygma is Jean Pierre Laffont, one of the founding
members of Sygma, and whose wife Eliane runs the Sygma office in New York. Jean Pierre has
been hired by Gamma to help run its New York office. Rumor has it that Eliane will leave
Sygma and join Gamma.
For many the key negotiating point is what will happen to the archives of those who wish to
leave, or have already left, not how to revised the contract as it stands so photographers
will want to sign it.
Last week, Corbis came out with a new version for photographers working outside of France.
According to those who have examined the contract closely there are almost no substantive
changes from the previous version. Instead they have made changes in fonts and formats to
make it appear that there are real changes.
Photographers feel Corbis still isn't giving them clear answers to the questions they have
posed. Several key photographers in France and the U.S. have already left the company.
For more information see the PDN story at:
MIRA Hires Editor
ASMP members have been told that Cathy Burkey has been hired as MPCA editor. Cathy has seven
years or experience as a senior editor at The Image Bank.
Cathy will begin accepting new submissions on October 1st and will divide her time between
editing new submissions and culling the existing file.
MPCA photographers will be receiving new submission guidelines within the next two weeks.
On October 1, 2000 Boston Photo Imaging will be the new imaging service provider for MIRA
replacing Applied Graphics Technology (AGT). They will maintain the same low prices for
scanning and uploading of images, but promise a substantial improvement in performance over
AGT which failed to meet the needs of the photographers.
Photographer Action Against Boston Globe
Approximately 80% of the freelance photographers in New England who worked for the Boston
Globe prior to the release of the Globe's rights grabbing contract are still refusing to sign
the Globe's new contract. See stories
322 , and
The Globe has had to put three part time photographers on salary in order to provide the
coverage they can no longer get from freelancers. In addition, Director of Photography Bill
Brett will be required to return to his duties as a staff photographer on October 1st in
order to provide the needed coverage.
New names are appearing in The Globe's photo credits and it is believed that photographers
outside of New England who do not have a clear understanding for the problems the Boston
photographers face are accepting assignment on bad terms because the Globe does not represent
a significant part of their income.
New England photographers ask all photographer to support their action and not accept any
assignments from the Boston Globe until the company produces a contract that is fair to all
The Professional Photographers of America (PPA) received such resistance from members that
they have officially terminated their copyright licensing program.