Random Thoughts 43

Posted on 1/30/2002 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



January 30, 2002

Work Stoppage At Sygma France

The French news staff of the Corbis brands Sygma, Kipa and Tempsport instituted a work
stoppage on January 28th. The employees claim that Corbis
had refused to present a decent and fair plan to indemnify the staffers who have been let
go as a result of the reorganization announced on November 29, 2001. (See Story
Ninety-three jobs out of a total of 191 were scheduled to be eliminated.

Michael Croan, Director of Photographer Relations at Corbis says the employees are in the
Paris office, but not performing any duties except to respond to urgent news matters. All
daily production of news pictures has stopped. However, the Corbis Stock Market and
Corbis Outline teams in Paris continue to do business as usual.

Under French labor law, a company is forced to present a "social plan" when a certain
percentage of the staff is laid-off. The plan must be accepted by the unions, government
and staffers. The photographers claim that in the various versions of the plan presented
so far, the photographers would either lose ownership of their archives, lose their press
cards, or be unable to force Corbis to abide by their contracts. The photographers and
the rest of the staff in Paris are not trying to fight the layoffs, but are simply
seeking fair compensation.

Photographers claim that at one point Corbis told them their original slides would be
returned unmounted in bags. This was deemed unacceptable because without the
identification number that appears on the mount there would be no way to connect the
image to the original caption information and the images would be worthless.

Croan explained, "The people who are "striking" in Paris are not members of the official
worker's committee - the official body that represents workers' interests. Our work with
that group continues to move forward uninterrupted, in accordance with French labor law
and with a focus on negotiations and individual solutions."

"It's important to remember that our overall objective is to make our French news
operation a successful and sustainable business. Like every other news agency in France,
Corbis Sygma has been financially troubled for years - partly in response to a softening
news market worldwide. Our strategy calls for a shift in focus to more globally relevant
stories and features. It also calls for staff photographers to convert to freelance
agreements, like the ones we use with all of our other photographers in the world and
with some of our existing photographers in France. As difficult as this transition is,
we're committed to making it as smooth as possible for these photographers - we've made
sure they can renew their press credentials for at least two years, and are exploring
ways to help photographers maintain some of the securities they currently enjoy as staff
members," Croan continued.

To illustrate how they have been stripped of their rights by Corbis, it is reported that
17 Sygma photographers have posed naked for celebrity (and ex-Sygma) photographer
Marianne Rosentiehl. The picture is expected to be included in a book that will be
released in February. It is also being syndicated to magazines worldwide by the competing
agency Gamma where a number of ex-Sygma executives and photographers are now employed.

Corbis Acquires Sekani

Corbis has announced the acquisition of Sekani, a stock footage company headquartered in
New York. Rick Wysocki has been named vice president of motion moving images for Corbis.
Corbis had previously been in partnership with FootageNow (which later became Sekani) and
is now extending their interest to full ownership.

With the Sekani acquisition, Corbis adds a comprehensive resource for high quality
traditionally licensed and royalty free commercial moving images to their other stock
image offerings. Sekani has a collection of over 80,000 hours of contemporary and
archival imagery including exclusive representation of some of the worlds most renowned
companies. In addition to its New York headquarters, Sekani has offices in Los Angeles
and Germany, as well as 15 sub-agent representatives in 12 countries worldwide.

Before coming to Corbis, Rick Wysocki had worked as a producer and director of
documentary films. In 1995 he became senior vice president of the Image Bank's film
division and since 1999 has served as senior vice president and managing director of
Getty Motion with responsibility for Image Bank Film, Archive Films and the Energy Film

Ad Sales Down

The worst one-year erosion in magazine ad sales in nearly a quarter century occurred
in 2001 according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

The number of pages sold was down 11.7% to 237,613 total ad pages for the year.
December was particularly dismal with a drop for the month of 19.4% Due to the long
lead time for ad closings on most monthly magazines, December was the first month to
reflect advertiser reaction to September 11th.

Advertising in 2002

According to Zenith Optimedia Group global advertising is expected to drop an
additional 1.3% in 2002 after a 5.8% drop in 2001. This would be deeper than the
economic slowdown in 1991 and 1992.

The situation is much worse in the U.S than in the rest of the world. Spending is
likely to fall 8.7% for all of 2001, another 3.5% in 2002 and 0.3% in 2003. A
full-year recovery isn't expected until 2004.

It is now predicted that growth is likely to resume toward the 4th quarter of 2002.

U.S. magazine advertising is expected to be worse than the above averages for all
advertising. Magazine advertising is expected to fall an addition 6% in 2002.
Newspaper advertising will fall 6% in 2001 and 4% in 2002.

In this down market what kind of images will people be looking for?
"People are still looking for things that touch them," according Cliff Freeman,
chairman of Cliff Freeman & Partners. Say goodbye to gritty urban street scenes in ad
campaigns next year. Advertisers have already begun relying more on scenes of joy,
serenity and domestic bliss.

Zefa Opens London Office

Zefa visual media (www.zefa.biz) opened its own offices in London in January 2002.
Zefa now has its own offices in Germany, France, The Netherlands, Italy and the UK,
and is represented by 13 affiliates in all major European markets. visual media
international (vmi) also markets royalty free images through imageshop.com.

The Complete National Geographic Not So Complete

Through the process of discovery that is being conducted by a few The photographers
suing National Geographic for the use of their images without compensation in the
"108 Years of National Geographic on CD-ROM" have learned that the CD's are not as
complete a copy of the original work as Geographic has claimed. At least 60 images
that were in the original print editions of the magazines were not included on the

One of Geographic's strongest arguments up to this time has been that the CD-ROM's
were not a new work under the copyright law because they were exact copies of the
original. Now it turns out that "complete" doesn't really mean complete.

Some photographers are asking, "If you can put out a product with some images
missing, why don't I have a right to have mine removed if you refuse to compensate me
for the use?"

Hemera Technologies

Hemera Technologies has launched AbleStock.com, a new RF web site that offers
high-quality images to creative professionals at lower prices. Images can be
purchased in the following formats: 25MB ($99.99), 10MB ($49.99) and 1.5MB ($19.99).

According to Marc-Antoine Benglia, President of Hemera, "AbleStock images are
original digital photographs. Our unique digital-to-digital production process
eliminates traditional scanning costs and results in lower prices for our customers."

TimePix Changes Directions

TimePix has reduced staff and plans to move most of their archive to Lookout Mountain
for "safe storage". After making efforts to more aggressively sell the images
produced for thier various publications it appears that Time will be returning to the
old Time Picture Collection style of operation where the archive is principally used
for internal needs.

Copyright © 2002 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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