413 RANDOM THOUGHTS 34
June 22, 2001
New Catalog Strategy
Rumor has it that Getty is working on a new catalog strategy. The book itself with cost $80 to
$90 to produce and will be the highest high end. Top quality cover, top quality paper, finest
printing, vellum between the pages, etc. -- and of course top quality images.
This book will not be sent out for mass distribution, but to about 18,000 people Getty has
identified as being their top level customers. The elite of the elite.
The idea is that you give these customers something that the riffraff won't have access to.
They might even offer these potential buyers some special customer service, who knows.
Photographers probably won't be charged for participation in this catalog since it's purpose
is clearly not to sell images. It is also rumored that the vast majority of the images will be
the 90% to 100% owned kind, so the 40% photographers are unlikely to get much in the book
New York Times Claims Additional Rights
If you have ever licensed a photo usage to the New York Times, they claim all-rights
regardless of what the invoice said or any one-time use agreements you might have had with the
Recently, George S. Zimbel caught the Times trying to sell a print of Jacqueline and John
Kennedy, that he shot in 1960 and provided to the Times for one-time use. The Times held the
print in their library and recently put it on sale in a Paris Photo Gallery for $4,000,
without Zimbel's knowledge or authorization.
Once caught, the Times did not admit they had made a mistake, but tried to justify themselves
in a three month back and forth letter campaign with Zimbel. The whole messy situation is
reported word-for-word in the Columbia Journalism Review at
In a very patient and controlled manner Zimbel takes on the Times and finally wins. Any
photographer reading this piece will never want to license use of another photo to the New
York Times. It is not worth the grief.
Klein Had A VERY GOOD Year
In the Seattle Times executive pay roundup Jonathan Klein showed up as the fourth highest
compensated CEO in the Northwest for 2000 with total compensation of $17,297,981.
This survey only looked at top officers in public companies with revenues in excess of $200
million that are headquartered in Washington, Oregon or Idaho.
Of all the CEO's in Northwest, Klein had the biggest leap in total pay which was more than 20
times his 1999 total compensation of $854,414.
Most of this was the result of exercising options on his company stock. He sold 557,500 of
them in 2000 for a net gain of $15.8 million. The article also reports that Klein also
received 400,000 stock option grants in 2000 with an estimated value of $7,841,530.
The Times also said, "CEO pay in the northwest continues to lag behind that in Corporate
America as a whole." Maybe Klein and his fellow CEO's from the Northwest can do better next
Advertising Sales Down
Total U.S. advertising spending in 2000 was $235,939,000,000 according to Salomon Smith
Barney. This was up about 9.1% from the spending in 1999. First Quarter 2001 estimates are
that spending declined about 5.2% from the 4th Quarter. It is also expected that 2nd Quarter
will be down another 6% below the 1st Quarter.
Magazine advertising in 2000 was about $11,770,000,000 and direct mail spending was
$44,929,000,000. These two areas which are the biggest advertising users of still photography
represent about 24% of total monies spent on advertising placement in 2000.
I estimate that about $370,000,000 was spent in the U.S. in 2000 on stock photography used in
print advertising and direct mail.
This is about 8/10ths of 1% of the money spent on ad placement.
Bankruptcy Clause Unenforceable
Pictor photographers have just learned is the bankruptcy clause in their contracts is
unenforceable according to U.S. bankruptcy law. Their clause says:
"If the Agency is finally adjudicated as bankrupt, or if a receiver is appointed, or if an
assignment is made for the benefit of creditors, Photographer may by a notice in writing
revoke Agency's authorization under this Agreement. Upon such termination, all business
activity with respect to the Images shall immediately cease and Agency will promptly retrieve
and deliver to Photographer all Images as required under Paragraph 8 above."
This is pretty standard language for most contracts, but according to bankruptcy lawyers, once
a company files Chapter 11 they can hold onto all images until a reorganization plan has been
presented to the creditors. At that point each creditor can accept or reject the plan. If a
creditor rejects the plan they can terminate their contract. In theory this would call for the
return of images.
How quickly such a return would take place is another matter. In the Pictor Chapter 11
bankruptcy most of the 35mm images are now in storage in the Washington DC area, and all the
current staff are in New York. (All large format images are in New York and still being
marketed along with all digital files.) It is not uncommon in the closing down of operations
that staff is no longer available to sort through hundreds of thousands of images and get them
back to their rightful owners.
All photographers should examine their contracts with stock agencies and recognize their risks
if one of their U.S. stock agencies declares bankruptcy. If there are signs that an agency is
in trouble, and getting images back is important to the photographer, it is best to start the
process of getting images returned before bankruptcy is declared.