574 RANDOM THOUGHTS 66
August 18, 2003
Corbis Sues Amazon
Corbis has filed suit against Amazon.com and 15 poster and picture stores for allegedly
selling authorized copies of hundreds of images according to the Wall Street Journal.
Amazon is the most prominent company so far targeted by Corbis which has filed seven suits
since November and says it is investigating 120 other possible infringements. Steve Davis
told the Journal, "We are absolutely going to be aggressive about pursuing unauthorized uses
that we believe infringe our artists' rights. This kind of case is really an important piece
of our doing business."
Amazon removed the images in question as soon as they were notified, but Corbis says it
intends to move forward with the suit.
The suit raises a fundamental question as to how much responsibility companies like Amazon
have to monitor and weed out misbehavior by users of its Web site. In general the Digital
Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) favors copyright holders, but it exempts certain "Internet
Service Providers" from liability for material that passes through their network or web
In an earlier case that may have some bearing on the Corbis vs. Amazon suit, a documentary
movies of killer Charles Manson was being sold through eBay. eBay was able to prevail by
using the DMCA as a defense. Corbis executives argue that Amazon plays a much more central
role in reproducing, displaying and distributing the misused material than was the case with
eBay because Amazon bills customers for the images, receives a portion of the proceeds, and
allows customers to track shipments.
This case will certainly take time to be sorted out by the courts, but the actions by Corbis
may lead to some sellers paying more attention to insuring that they have rights to sell the
products they offer online.
One of the product suppliers was MovieGoods Inc. According to the Journal who interviewed
Robert Deakin, chief operating officer, of MovieGoods, Mr. Deakin said that his company
tries "to the best of our ability and manpower" to authenticate the ownership of the
products it sells, which are mostly movie posters. But he pointed out that in the
celebrity-photo business some products "can be passed along 10 or 15 or 30 times" before
MovieGoods acquires them. This makes policing ownership very difficult.
Hijackers Using Cameras As Weapons
Homeland Security officials are planning to issue an advisory directing all aviation
industry and federal screeners as well as local authorities to pay particular attention to
certain electronic devices including cameras.
Recent raids of al Qaeda safe houses overseas turned up evidence that the group was trying
to modify electronic devices to carry small weapons or explosives. Officials gave the
example of an electronic flash that was being modified to convert to, or carry, a stun gun.
The warning will read in part, "The hijackers may attempt to use common items carried by
travelers, such as cameras, modified as weapons."
Since X-ray machines cannot identify explosives, screeners might be forced to swab
electronics for explosive residue or put suspicious items through the more sophisticated CTX
machines that are used to screen checked baggage.
Masterfile has launched a new online promotional portfolio called "Unbound". This monthly
presentation is designed to show keyword based selections of images presented in simple
"Unbound" offers clients some of the benefits of a small printed portfolio, but in a digital
format. The images are shown in sizes closer to those used in actual print projects to help
designers see the visual impact of the photograph.
"It is our goal to assist our clients in finding the ideal images for their project any way
we can," says John McDonald, VP of Masterfile. To see a sample portfolio go to
www.masterfile.com and click the "Unbound" button.
Getty RM Pricing
Recently we became aware that Getty not only has multiple price levels in the Royalty Free
area depending on brand, but also multiple price levels in the Rights Managed area based on
After doing some test prices on the site it appears that the list prices charged for a Stone
image are about 15% higher than the list prices for an Image Bank or Taxi image. It is
unclear how these higher list prices affect negotiations, or whether there has been any
negative effect on the usage of Stone images. It is a clear recognition that Getty believes
it is possible to identify certain images as "premium" and price their usage at a higher level.
Getty To Change Search Results Methodology
According to Troy Mastin, investment analysts for William Blair & Company, Getty Images is
on track to remedy by mid to late August their web search methodology that favors RF over
"It appears that the company plans on changing the default display of each search result to
include a total of 60 images rather than the current 12. The display will favor RM images
more than the current technique and most - if not all - of the first 30 results will be RM
collections," Mastin said.
It's unclear as to what that means for individual brands, but as we pointed out in Story
569 the existing balance is
about 50/50 RM and RF. If the first 30 results are RM, a lot will
depend on the makeup of the second 30. If the second 30 is mostly RF then there may not be
much change in the overall balance although certainly RM should receive some benefit from
having more images closer to the top.
Both RM and RF suppliers will want to watch this adjustment very closely. Numbers that would
clearly define the degree of success of the change are unlikely to available before January
Getty's Photographer's Choice has been a big success. More and more photographers are happy
to pay the $75 per image to get their photos on the Gettyimages.com site because the earning
results have been so positive.
For the past year Getty has been accepting new images for this brand about once a quarter,
but the major problem for photographers until recently was that Getty had a limit on the
total number of images they would accept during each acceptance period. This meant, as one
photographer put it, "that getting images accepted was a race to see who had the faster
messenger or courier service."
A recent post on GettyArtists.com confirms that they have extended the next acceptance
period to a five day window during which all submissions received will be accepted,
regardless of the order received. Each photographer is limited to ten submission per
acceptance period and Photographer's Choice is only open to those who have already signed a
contract with Getty Images.
The next acceptance period begins on September 8th and closes September 12th.
Photographers get your images ready!!
General Motors Launches Online PhotoStore
General Motors Corp. is teaming with Getty Images to launch GM PhotoStore, at
This is the official online photo source for images for personal use
from the world's largest vehicle manufacturer. The site houses vehicle photos from Cadillac,
Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Chevrolet, GMC, Hummer, and Saturn and enables millions of
automotive enthusiasts worldwide to view and purchase high-quality, contemporary and
historical prints of GM automotive photography and illustrations online.
At this point researchers, archivists and product experts have selected 1,000 images from
GM's massive Media Archive. These are the only images offered as part of this service. The
collection covers the full range of the company's automotive history from the early 1900s
through today and includes concept vehicles and current production vehicles like the Hummer
H2. In addition, the GM PhotoStore offers prints of classic GM advertisements, GM
locomotives and engines, the 1964-1965 World's Fair, historic and contemporary assembly
plants, and lifestyle shots of the vehicles in action.
The size of prints range from 8 x 10 inches to 24 x 30 inches, with pricing from $15 to $42.
Orders are typically delivered within three to seven working days in the United States, and
within five to seven working days Internationally.
"We are delighted to collaborate with General Motors so everyone can experience the classic
and modern GM brands through pictures," said Jim Gurke, senior vice president of new
revenues for Getty Images.
At this stage no plans were outlined for expanding the collection, or for licensing
commercial rights to any of these images.
Digital Workflow at Corbis
Like many agencies Corbis is moving rapidly toward a digital workflow. Recently, a memo went
out from Corbis' European Editorial Director that left some photographer thinking Corbis was
about to stop accepting film submissions and start demanding that all new material be
When the SAA's co-VP Tim McGuire contacted Patrick Donehue, he quickly pointed out that
Corbis was NOT adopting a new policy of only accepting digital, or even preferring digital
However, Donehue also said that over 90% of all new EDITORIAL content coming into Corbis is
digital (usually captured digitally), and he predicts that within three years 95% of all
imagery coming to Corbis will be digital. (This includes all commercial imagery as well as
editorial.) Donehue also suggested that those photographers who do not embrace the new
technology will be left behind.
Donehue told the SAA that if sometime in the future Corbis decides not to accept film
submissions anymore a long lead/warning time would be given to all those affected by the
policy. Nevertheless, the message is certainly clear. Photographers who hope to be producing
still stock images three or more years from now had better start getting acquainted with
digital quickly and developing digital workflow procedures that work for them.
Canon EOS-1DS Gets Thumbs Up At Getty
Getty has announced that images created with Canon's latest digital 35mm camera, the EOS-1DS
are of acceptable quality to meet Getty's standards. The 31MB RAW file this camera produces
will need to be interpolated to a 48-52MB file to meet Getty's digital submission
New Twist On Subscription Royalty-Free
Clement Mok, one of the early pioneers in RF stock photography is offering a new twist on
subscription pricing with his Visual Symbols Library
( www.visualsymbols.com ).
The library has over 1,400 images and users can get access to it for an annual subscription
rate of $299.95, $499.95 or $999.95. These annual rates allow the user to download 15, 30 or
70 images, respectively. This means that the price per image ranges from $14 to $20
depending on the subscription plan. All images are RF so once downloaded they can be used
again and again with very few restrictions.
Many of the images are drawn from the best of Mok's acclaimed image collection (formerly
sold as part of PhotoDisc's Object Series. All images were created with multiple uses in
mind and shot on seamless white background for maximum sharpness, contrast and versatility.
While the prices for RF at Getty, and that of many of the other major producers is going up,
there are other RF suppliers who are offering images at increasingly lower prices.
Istockphoto.com allows RF images to be downloaded for $.50 each. It pays the photographer
$.05 per download and keeps the other $.45 "to pay for the bandwidth," etc. (Users must buy
in packages, and the more they buy the cheaper the images, with 250 images for $100 being
tagged as the "best deal".
The FAQ on the site describe this as a good deal for photographers pointing out that if a
picture sells 2,000 times the photographer will get a ""whole $100."
Since photographers will not be paid anything until they are owed $100 or more, in actuality
they will never be paid anything.
In addition the photographers must provide the scans, keyword and do the uploading
themselves. This Canadian site has more than 56,000 images currently available.
KeepMedia.com Makes Magazine and Newspaper Articles Available
ASJA and The Authors Guild are investigating whether KeepMedia.com, a new online database of
magazine and newspaper articles, has properly acquired the electronic rights to freelance
works that it is making available to the public. KeepMedia, funded by Louis Borders
(co-founder of the bookstore chain), began operations on Monday, July 28, 2003.
KeepMedia archives articles from Esquire, Family Circle, Forbes, The Detroit Free Press, The
Miami Herald, and many other publications, including trades. (A full list of the
publications offered can be found at:
If you have been published in any of these publications in the past -- the archives generally
go back just a few years -- and have retained electronic rights to some of your works,
please visit www.keepmedia.com , sign up for a free
trial, and see if any of your works appear at the site.
If you believe your rights have been infringed, please send an e-mail with the details to
the ASJA Contracts Committee at email@example.com. This is purely exploratory at this
phase. ASJA is not accusing KeepMedia of any wrongdoing.
Books Sale Statistics
Book sales in the U.S. totaled $26,874,100,000 in 2002, a 5.5% increase over 2001 according
to the Association of American Publishers (AAP).
However, the segment of this market that is of greatest interest to the photo community is
the education books for ELHI (K-12) and Higher Education because they are the heaviest users
ELHI revenue was DOWN 5% from 2001 to $4.0733 billion. Higher Education was UP 12.4% to
$3.8982 billion making total education revenue $7.9715 billion.
There are a couple factors to consider when looking at these numbers. Books cost more than
they did a few years ago, so the revenue figures are not necessarily reflective of the
number of units sold. In addition, stock photo prices for textbook uses have tended to drop
in the last few years, and the circulations requested for a given fee have tended to
dramatically increase. Since most stock photography is licensed based on number of units
sold this may mean that the stock photography share of publishing revenue is declining at a
much more rapid pace than overall revenue.
So far in 2003 sales revenues in the Higher Education category seem to be falling when
compared with 2002 and ELHI sales are up slightly compared with the previous year.
It is also interesting to note some comparative figures from The Magazine Handbook
2002-2003, put out by the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA). In 2001 (the latest year in
which figures were available) gross revenue from Circulation was $9.966 billion and gross
revenue from Advertising was $16.213 billion for $26.179 billion (almost the same amount of
revenue that book sales generated).
On Request Images
OnRequest Images has launched its service, providing customers with a new and innovative
solution for specifying and acquiring high quality photographic images. OnRequest Images
combines the creativity, quality, and control of a custom photo
shoot, with the speed, variety, and price of stock photography, enabling advertising
agencies, publishers, graphic design firms, and corporate marketing departments to quickly,
and cost-effectively obtain the "right" images. Within minutes of specifying an order,
OnRequest Images distributes a custom stock image assignment to a select group of its
network of 1,600 photographers in 53 countries. The chosen photographers shoot the
assignment on spec, posting their images online for customer review. Customers select the
images they want to license from the variety of images produced by all of the photographers.
Within 48-72 hours, customers can incorporate final digital imagery into their campaign.
"We use the highest caliber photographers from around the world to capture the images that
convey the message, style, and essence that our clients want, within the timeframe that they
need", remarked David Norris, Chairman and CEO of OnRequest Images. "Art directors no longer
need to compromise. Because we have multiple photographers competing for the same
assignment, the results are diverse and impressive."
OnRequest Images has developed proprietary technology to manage the assignment and licensing
processes, including: image specification, photographer assignment, submission and
management, customer review and image licensing. The service allows customers to obtain
digital imagery at a fraction of the cost associated with traditional photography solutions.
"In the fast-paced world of advertising where a delay in getting the right image can push
back the launch of a campaign, OnRequest Images is providing an invaluable new service,"
states Norris. "Now, clients get custom photography without the cost and hassle of managing
photographers, models, logistics, travel, and image rights."