170 SEPTEMBER 1998 SELLING STOCK
Volume 9, Number 1
©1998 Jim Pickerell - SELLING STOCK is written and published by Jim
Pickerell six times a year. The annual subscription rate is $80.00. subscriptions may be
obtained by writing Jim Pickerell, 110 Frederick Avenue, Suite A, Rockville, MD
20850, phone 301-251-0720, fax 301-309-0941, e-mail: email@example.com. All rights
are reserved and no information contained herein may be reporduced in any manner
whatsoever without written permission of the editor. Jim Pickerell is also
co-owner of Stock Connection, a stock agency. In addition, he is co-author with
Cheryl Pickerell of Negotiating Stock Photo Prices , a guide to pricing
stock photo usages.
Thought For The Month
A survey done by The Stock Market and reported in CA found that 75% of
advertising art directors and designers use a computer to search for
stock photo images.
In this survey 41% of the respondents were advertising art directors and
57% were designers. Just imagine how often digital search techniques
will be used once the internet gets faster. Also of note is the weekly
survey at that The Stock Market conducts.
Interesting questions/interesting answers. You can see past answers by
responding to the survey. See Story 165.
NEW TSI PHOTOGRAPHER CONTRACT
September 9, 1998
In early August Tony Stone Images began circulating a new three year
agreement to their contributing photographers with a deadline of
September 15th for signing. TSI plans to launch a new web site in
October and they told photographers their images would not be included on
the web site unless they sign this new agreement.
One of the key elements of this contract is that photographers will
receive 40% instead of 50% of all digital sales in their home territory
(sales in the U.S for U.S. photographers) and 30% for all digital sales
made in other territories.
This would make it appear that digital marketing will be more expensive
than traditional marketing, and thus the photographers must give up an
additional share of income in order to continue to participate in the
On the other hand, Getty told their shareholders in their quarterly
report, "In the quarter, Tony Stone Images Client Preview system was
successfully tested. the Preview system will allow customers to request
selections from picture research personnel and have the required
photographs delivered online. The system provides cost saving
opportunities for Tony Stone Images and the company's customers, ..."
We estimate once current print sales move to on-line sales and delivery,
and assuming current sales levels, TSI photographers, in the aggregate,
will be paid at least $3 million less annually than under the present
Photographers should examine their contracts closely before rushing to
sign. While Patrick Donehue reported that he a "pile of signed
contracts" within two weeks after they were mailed, there are indications
that many of TSI's most productive contributors have not signed and have
deep concerns about a number of issues in the contract.
In their letter accompanying the contract TSI said, "The agreement has
already been endorsed by Tony Stone Images' consultative photographer
panel (the Photographer Advisory Group) in both the U.S. and Europe." In
fact, as of the end of August, some of the PAG members, have not signed
the agreement and appear to have certain reservations about certain
clauses in it.
On the other hand other photographers have accepted the PAG endorsement
at face value and signed the contract without reading it. One
photographer told us, "I'm too busy to read and try to understand all
that (11 pages plus exhibits). Besides the PAG members approved it. I
just signed it and sent it in."
Photographers should recognize that not all contracts are the same. I
have learned of at least three versions of Exhibit 2.4 and Patrick
Donehue says there are "many versions." The terms in the ones I am aware
- photographer exclusive (not allowing the photographer to offer
any part of their work to any other stock agency other than Tony Stone.)
- image exclusive (exclusive only for the selected images and all
- image exclusive, but also allowing the photographer to
independently make small editorial sales from images similar to the
accepted images, but not to include editorial sales for full pages and
According to Patrick Donehue, "The intention is to mirror, as closely as
possible, the current version of the photographer's current TSI
But, what many photographers received was an agreement that was much more
restrictive than their current contracts. When some individuals
challenge TSI on this point the response often seems to be, "Oh, we made
a mistake and sent you the wrong version. We'll send you the correct
These mistakes may well have been honest, but it is a standard strategy
in many businesses to offer a very restrictive version to everyone the
first time out and see how many people you can get to agree to it. For
those who complain you have a second version where you give on a few
And maybe there is a third version and so on.
When Time Inc. recently revised its photographer contract every
photographer received the most restrictive version first. There were
actually six different versions ready to offer photographers who
Photographers should carefully examine their agreements and not be steam
rollered with a tight deadline into signing something that is not in
their best interest.
For those with the "image exclusive" contracts the new version is
conditional on the photographer giving TSI first look at everything they
produce. A problem arises here because TSI is also telling photographers
that they don't want to look at everything the photographer produces.
They only want to see a tightly edited sample of the "best". Thus, in
order to satisfy the requirements of their editor, photographers must
tightly edit their submissions. It is unclear whether a photographer who
signs one of these contracts can legally attempt to market any of the
situations not shown to TSI.
Under the new agreement the photographer is not paid in the month after
the invoice is paid , but within 120 days from the date the client
invoice is issued , regardless of the location of the sale.
According the letter photographers received and the press release, TSI is
insuring photographers against "bad debt" loss, if the sale is eventually
However, on careful examination of the terms of the contract TSI has
"...the right, in its sole discretion, to deduct the amount of such loss
(bad debt) equal to the amount previously paid to Contributor..."
For sales within a photographer's own territory 120 days could stretch
out payment, rather than make it shorter. Currently, photographers are
paid monthly in the month after the fee is collected.
Some photographers have asked why sub agencies or wholly-owned offices
should be receiving a percentage of the on-line and digitally fulfilled
sales when they and are not involved in the sale in any way.
Patrick Donehue points out that TSI must be careful not to undermine
existing relationships with local offices in various countries around the
world. TSI will rely on the marketing and support from these offices to
encourage local buyers to use the on-line systems.
It is also important to recognize that a number of offices around the
world are wholly-owned by TSI. I estimate that for at least $25 million
of their gross sales, and maybe more, they get to keep 70% of the gross
fee collected and remit 30% to the photographer.
Promotion of the site is expected to be very expensive. Getty Images has
allocated $13 million for digital development in 1998 alone. Much of
this is earmarked for the development and launch of the Tony Stone Images
electronic commerce enabled website.
Another complexity, the details of which are still being worked out, is
to provide 24 hour-a-day, 7 day-a-week negotiating service because these
right-controlled images will be licensed based on the usage. This
service will have to be available in many languages because the requests
could come from any country in the world. In all likelihood the local
offices will be involved in some way in many of these sales.
TSI photographers interested communicating with their colleagues
concerning the contract can get a free password to the TSI Photographers
Forum by sending an e-mail to:
Story 162 SIMILARS
August 13, 1998
"What is a similar?" The answer is so subjective that
there is absolutely no agreement among clients, stock agencies or
photographers as to a general statement of what is, or should be, a
Agencies establish policies on "similars" so they can license exclusive
and restricted rights to certain images, and be sure that no other image
that the client might judge as similar will ever appear in the market
In deciding what is a similar, FPG gives their photographers the
following advice. "Would a reasonable client be upset if we licensed one
of these images to them and the other one to a competitor?" They go on
to provide a three page set of guidelines for the photographer to use in
deciding what is similar.
One problem with the above definition is defining a "reasonable client."
If the customer is always right, then anything the customer wants is
reasonable. FPG acknowledges to their photographers that because the
definition is extremely subjective they tend to err on the side of a
"wider" standard, feeling it is "better to be safe than sorry."
When the standard is based on the interpretation of "any" client it is
possible to go to some real extremes. In one legal case it was argued
that two pictures of couples having breakfast in bed were similar enough
that if a client purchased exclusive rights to one, the client would be
upset if the other appeared in a ad produced by a competitor.
In this case the people in the two pictures were different, the photos
were taken in different cities by different photographers, at different
times. The clothing was different, the bed clothes were different, the
walls of the rooms were different colors, the light was coming from a
different direction, and the images were handled by different agencies.
Still it was argued that the second image produced infringed on the
rights of the first and would make it impossible to license the first for
an exclusive use.
Normally, we think of similars as images produced by a single
photographer and not those produced by all photographers. But there are
a lot of very similar pictures, produced by different photographers that
could conceivably present problems for certain clients, particularly if
both uses were licensed by the same agency.
If an agency licenses an exclusive use of a man talking on a cell phone,
are they obligated to take all other images of men using cell phones out
of circulation for the duration of the license, even if they were taken
by other photographers they represent? If the agency takes images
produced by other photographers out of circulation then a proper agency
production strategy would be to get as many photographers as possible to
produce images on the same general subject so that once one is licensed
there are still others available for licensing.
If the agency removes similars taken by other photographers when an
exclusive is licensed who gets paid for the usage? Does all the money go
to the one whose image was used, or does everyone share proportionally
based on the number of images removed from the market?
Do We Need An Industry Policy On Similars?
To answer this question we need to consider the needs of clients, agents
and photographers, and identify the attitudes of each toward similars.
We also need to consider how important restricted use sales are to the
- What are the gross dollars earned from restricted use sales as
compared with one-time non-exclusive sales?
Big agencies say a lot. Smaller agencies say almost nothing. This will
also vary from photographer to photographer, depending on the type of
work each does.
Photographers can easily calculate how important it is to them by looking
at their sales reports. Clients should be paying several thousand
dollars for any use where that image, and "similars" are being held out
of the market for a period of time. If you get 50% of the gross sale
look for sales where you received at least $2,000. If you get 25% look
for sales where you received at least $1,000. What percentage of your
gross stock income do these sales represent? Most photographers will
find that in spite of their size, these sales make up a very small
percentage of the photographer's total stock income.
- Some agents believe that in future, given the improving quality of
RF images, a larger percentage of the sales made by traditional agencies
will be for restricted uses. At Selling Stock we believe there will
still be plenty of opportunities for traditional agencies to license
one-time uses for fees much higher than RF prices. Traditional agencies
will be able to provide a much larger selection of imagery, technical
information about the imagery, information about who has used the image
in the past and other research and support services that RF companies can
Photographer: The critical issue for photographers is to earn the
maximum return on the images they produce. For many this may mean
keeping the maximum number of images in circulation in the maximum number
No agent reaches every client in the world. Some buyers prefer to deal
with specialists or sellers who understand their particular needs. Stock
agency editors play a critical role. No editor can fully comprehend the
future needs of all clients. Some will select better then others for
particular segments of the market, and these market segments tend to find
the agencies with better editing. Photographers tend to sell more images
when a larger number of stock agency editors are selecting from their
Client: The client who uses a stock image for a major advertising
campaign wants to be sure that their competitor doesn't use the same
image for the duration of the campaign. If their customers think of
their company whenever they see a particular image, that image has very
high marketing value for the company.
Clients preparing a campaign will pay substantial five figure amounts for
exclusivity. Occasionally clients think they should be entitled to
exclusive use for a very low one-time use fee but such requests are
What the client thinks is a "similar" will vary with each image chosen,
and with each campaign. If the image user starts losing business and
their competitor shows up with a
similar image in one of their promotions, in all likelihood the client
would seek legal redress from the image sellers.
Clients often like to know the history of sales of an image they have
chosen, in order to make sure their competitors have not used it
Agents: Most agencies can easily supply previous sales information
for a specific image number. But, when it comes to supplying a sales
history for all "similars" to that number the issue becomes much more
complex. Few, if any agencies can do this for the majority of images
they currently have on file. They may be able to do it for some of their
newer images, or for very unique subjects, because their policy is to
edit so tightly that they place few if any
similars to new images into their general file. They also require, by
contract, that the photographer withhold all similars not selected from
There is no way to determine in advance which clients will want
exclusives and which ones won't, or which images they will want to use.
Therefore, an increasing number of agents want exclusive control of
all images in their file , to be assured, in advance, that they can
honor any request.
Some agents, particularly those who specialize, take a different
approach. Their normal practice is to license one-time non-exclusive
rights to an image. If the client wants to restrict future usages the
agent contacts the photographer to see if such restrictions can be
arranged. These agents are willing to lose an occasional exclusive sale
in order to give clients who are primarily interested in one-time use
licensing, a greater choice of material.
Reasons Agents Want To Control Similars.
- The agent wants to be prepared to supply excellent and
immediate service to the client, and to fulfill the clients expectations
with as few questions as possible.
- Once an exclusive is requested, the agent doesn't want to have the
inconvenience of going back to the photographer to try to place
restrictions on similars.
- The agent wants to be able to advertise that they can offer
exclusive rights to every image in their file.
- There is a fear that in the future clients will only come to "RP"
(rights protected) agencies, if the agency can offer exclusive use on
- The agency also wants to keep similar images out of the files of
their competition so clients will have to come to them to find a
- The agent doesn't want to lose a big sale if the photographer can't
restrict future usages of the image.
- The world is getting smaller and more and more agencies have the
potential of marketing worldwide through the use of electronic catalogs.
Therefore, in theory, there is less need for multiple agents than there
was in the past.
- The agency wants to be able to license rights in foreign countries
where rights control has traditionally been a greater concern, than is
normally the case in the U.S.oe The agent doesn't want to get in a
bidding war when the client finds the same image at two different
- The agency wants to avoid the hassle and extra costs of handling
some images on a non-exclusive basis, and others exclusively.
On the other hand, in theory, as a larger and larger percentage of the
images are placed in on-line databases it should not be that hard to add
a field that would indicate whether the image was available for exclusive
licensing or not. There is no reason why both systems can not co-exist
in a single agency. Most large agencies currently handle some images
that they can only license on a non-exclusive basis.
Foreign Agencies: In the past, European clients have tended to
have greater expectations of restricted rights to any image they license
than do North American clients. Normally this restriction for what they
would define as "their competitors" is automatically included in the base
price. The agent making the sale is expected to automatically know who
those competitors are, but traditionally that list has been small because
it included only those doing business and marketing to a language group
within that country.
Other languages and other countries were not considered a problem because
the readership of each individual publication or promotional material did
not cross borders.
Now all that is changing. Advertisers want to sell products across
borders and when possible they want to produce unified campaigns rather
that something totally unique for each language group. Consequently
stock agents want to sell across borders, but in most cases they only
have rights to license their images within their country. The transition
to worldwide licensing rights is an extremely difficult problem.
Everyone wants worldwide rights, but only
a few even approach worldwide distribution.
Consolidation/Acquisition: A number of small agencies are being
absorbed by larger agencies. Typically, the larger agency asks the
acquired photographers to sign exclusive rights contracts and the
strategies for handling similars change under the new management. This
presents a dilemma for the photographers as well as the agency.
The agency will be unable to license exclusive rights to many of these
new images because the photographers already have similars on file with
other agencies. The photographers have to determine whether the new
agency is likely to produce enough sales volume to justify their pulling
images from their other agencies.
The agency then has to decide whether they will handle some images on a
non-exclusive basis and others on an exclusive basis.
The photographer must decide what to do about new production. If many of
his or her "similars" can no longer be marketed will that result in an
overall loss of revenue? Can the photographer justify the costs of new
production without the previous sales volume?
RF Producers: One of the strangest positions on "similars" is that
taken by RF producers. They do not want their photographers to license
rights any images that are similar to those accepted for one of their RF
discs. They take this position in spite of the fact that they make no
guarantees to their customers about exclusivity.
Their argument to photographers is that if the photographer (or his
agent) charges a client $300 or $1000 to use an image and the client
later finds that he could have purchased the same image for $70, or got
unlimited usage of that image and 100 others for $250, the client will
But, if the clients feels cheated it's not the RF producer who did the
cheating. It's the photographer or his agent, and if they are willing to
accept the risk and deal with the fallout why should the RF producer
care? One might think it would be in everyone's best interest to try to
help the photographer earn enough from his or her photos to stay in
business and continue to produce.
A "money back guarantee" policy like that practiced in many other
industries would be a very simple way to deal with this problem.
Photographers and agents licensing images through several sources could
offer such a guarantee to any customer who later discovered they might
have purchased the exact same image from another source for less. This
enables the photographer to make an image available at several different
market levels and maximize potential sales without alienating customers.
The customer in this case is not expecting to get exclusive rights so the
only reason to be upset would be price.
Probably the greater concern for the RF producers is that photographers
might discover that they can earn more from licensing limited uses to
their images than they can earn from RF sales.
Implementing A Similars Policy With Clients.
When a stock agency puts a lot of emphasis on "rights control" there are
a number of things the photographer needs to understand about
implementation of this policy.
- Does your agency take certain similars out of circulation when
a restricted use is licensed to an image? Do they let you know when this
happens? Is it clearly indicated on your sales report? If you know, and
it is a best selling subject, you might be able to produce new images
that would illustrate the concept, but not be competitive. This way you
have something different to offer new clients that would not violate the
spirit of the restriction on the image already sold.
- Can your agency easily tell you which of your images currently are
under restricted use? Consider the sales your competitors are making of
this subject matter while your images are held out of the market. Was
the fee worth it?
- Does the agent search his records, without being asked, and
volunteer information about previous uses by other clients?
- Does the agent try to talk clients out of using a particular image
if it has been used by someone else in the same industry? Do clients
expect agents to provide this service?
- Are customers being trained to believe that unless they are told up
front about a conflict, that they can now assume that there is none...
even if they've paid no additional fees to get an exclusive license?
What does this do to the pricing model for exclusive use licenses? Are
customers being led to believe that they have something that they really
do not? How does the agency deal with similars taken by different
- How often does the agency license industry exclusives? Many images
are only of interest to a particular industry segment - finance,
education, travel, hunting. Thus, if the image is restricted for a
period of time in only that "industry," in effect it is restricted from
the entire market.
Another Approach To The Problem
Controlling the use of similars is often presented as the only way
a stock agency can stay in business, or a photographer can maximize
earning from his or her images. THERE IS ANOTHER APPROACH.
Instead of worrying about trying to make the big exclusive sales focus on
selling one-time non-exclusive rights and selling a higher volume. Every
invoice says that the client is buying "one-time, non-exclusive rights
for specific uses with no restrictions on other uses of the image by the
seller unless specific restrictions have been negotiated."
Instead of saying, "If you buy from us you can be confident that there
will be no other uses
of the image that might upset you," try the following:
"Our normal policy is to license one-time non-exclusive rights. However,
if you need restrictions on future use of a specific image and/or its
similars explain in detail what you need and we'll do our best to comply.
In most cases, we can also supply detailed information as to previous
uses of the image in your industry at your request."
When a client wants certain restrictions placed on similars you define
exactly what the client wants, you check with the photographer to see if
it is possible to place restrictions on the image, you negotiate a fee,
you write the specific restrictions into the invoice -- and everyone is
happy. And everyone has a clear understanding of what is going to happen
with this image or this particular group of images.
We believe this is a more practical approach to the problem, and much
less likely to backfire on the seller. With this strategy there will be
discussions with the client about what is a similar to the specific image
being purchased. It makes no difference what the photographer or stock
agent thinks are similar. What it really boils down to is what the
client thinks is similar and that can only be determined in one of two
ways -- talking to the client at the time of the sale and defining it, or
waiting until he sues you.
The major agencies want to avoid having to communicate with the
photographer in such a negotiation. But there is a tremendous advantage
for the photographer in knowing the specific image being used, and the
specific similars that will need to be removed from the market rather
than having to make a decision that all similars of everything the
photographer shoots in the future will be held out of the market.
The major agencies are probably also afraid that in too many cases, the
photographer would say, "The fee is too low for all you want me to remove
from the marketplace. Therefore I'm not interested." In this case the
agency wouldn't earn anything for its efforts. But, shouldn't
photographers have some say in restricted use sales?
Do I think the big agencies are going to change their approach. Not a
chance. They will continue to demand exclusives for all the images they
select and their "similars". They will define "similars" in ever broader
terms. They will occasionally get caught because they didn't define the
terms broadly enough, but that's OK because the photographer will
indemnify the agency so if problems arise it is the photographer's fault,
not the agency's.
A few agencies that take the other approach. Stock Connection is one of
them. Photographers who don't want to lock up all their images and bet
that one big agency will maximize sales for them need to shop carefully.
Oh! and by the way. Getting back to this idea that the only way to make
big money in stock is to license exclusive rights. Think about the
royalty free companies. They don't license exclusives. Their customers
know that everyone in the world is likely to use the same image. In
spite of this fact they are the fastest growing segment of the industry.
The following proposal is being circulated among stock agencies in an
effort to try to develop a definition for "similars" to which all
agencies can agree. "Similar" with regards to photographic images is
defined under the following two general categories:
- Photographs of the free natural world, outdoor public places or
manmade landmarks are similar when created at the same time, same
photographic shoot by the same photographer, and are images of the exact
same scene, subject matter, arrangement or portions of the same scene
with slight variations of images within the photographic shoot from
change of angle, lens, f/stop, filtration, brightness or other minor
variation in the same scene. Photographs involving a specific natural
element (whether living or non-living) moving within the scene or are
sequences of that specific natural element are considered similar. In
the case of the primary subject moving within a scene, those images with
different primary subjects are not considered similar.
- (a) Photographs of pre-arranged situations involving the same
recognizable model(s) wearing the same outfits, engaged in the same
activity during the same photographic shoot by the same photographer are
- (b) Photographs of unique, one-of-a-kind, non-living subject matter
(whether released or not) prearranged and created during the same
photographic shoot by the same photographer are considered similar.
How These Rules Might Be Interpreted In Practice
The following are a few situations where these rules might present
difficulties for photographers.
There are several huge colonies of King Penguins on the eastern
shore of South Georgia Island. This is where everyone goes to get almost
all of the endless serried ranks of 100's or 1,000's of penguins standing
nose to nose. Are all the shots that a photographer takes in one day
"similars"? Or, assume that the actual "photographic shoot" -- the time
spent on this island -- was three days. Are all the shots taken on the
shoot "similars"? If, the photographers agency licenses one penguin shot
for a one-year exclusive, does that mean that all the rest of the penguin
shots taken on this trip must be held out of the market for one year? If
the photographer moves to another rookery, on the same island on the same
day is this now a different shoot?
Part of the problem with the definition in this situation is the
definition of "exact same scene." Is shooting close ups of a few
penguins, or adults with a chick, part of the "exact
same scene," or not?
Often several photographers go on these trips together. If two
photographers are standing side by side and shoot with the same lens and
in the same direction these photos are not similar because they were
taken by two different photographers. If a photographer takes a spouse,
or an assistant along on the trip, and after shooting some pictures,
hands the camera to the assistant the resulting pictures are not similar
because they were produced by two different individuals.
A photographer builds an office set in the studio. There are six
desks and workers are placed at each desk. A dozen models are brought
into the studio and one shot has all twelve in an overall picture. Next
the photographer zeros in on activities at various desks with one, two or
three models in each frame, still using the same background and wall
decorations, but the background is out of focus in most pictures. The
photographer also shoots some close-ups of hands on the computer
keyboard. Are the tight shots of individuals, or the twos and threes
"similars" to the large group shot because they were taken on the same
day on the
same large set? Are the close-ups of hands "similars?" If the models
change clothes are they "similars," simply because they are the same
people? If the photographer uses one of the same models in another
office set on a different day are the pictures similar? If you think
some of these are not similar is every client likely to agree with your
What about a tight shot of a snarling tiger's head. This is a huge
seller and is often used to show aggression, anger, or lethal danger. Is
one tiger shot full frame vertical
looking directly into the camera a "similar" to the same action on the
same day shot from a side angle? What if we change tigers, but they are
both shot on the same day? If the same tiger snarls differently at two
different times in a half hour period, can you or your client tell that
it is the same tiger shot on the same day?
A photographer brings a model into the studio and shoots some
pictures of that model using a cell-phone and a laptop computer. Some
agencies would say that is only a "prop switch" and thus it doesn't
really change the visual impact of the image. On the other hand it would
be easy to see how a photographer could make two very different looking
pictures of the same subject using these two props in one location.
Because they are judged to be similar, if the
photographer decides to shoot both will the agency only keep one or the
other? If the agency will only accept one for the files, why should the
photographer bother to shoot both? If the model changes clothes does
that make the image different? If the photographer hires a different
model for each prop used, but shoots the images in basically the same
location, on the same day, are all these images similar? How much time
and money is it necessary for the photographer to spend to discover that
he must throw away most of his production?
A photographer sent a broad selection of polar bears wrestling to
his agency. They kept 5 for their general file and put 2 in their print
catalog. They wanted the photographer to withhold all other polar bear
wrestling shots from the market in order to protect the marketability of
the two in the catalog. The photographer did not agree. The agency was
given first shot at the photographer's best images and those the agency
choose for the catalog were not distributed in any other way.
The photographer argued that he had spent a good deal of time and
thousands of dollars getting these images and that the agency doesn't
attempt to reach certain markets that the photographer approaches
directly. Since these images were accepted by the agency the
photographer has made a lot more money selling the "rejects" directly,
than the agency has made for him, even with 2 images being in the
What about the shots of a bald eagle in flight? This is a
consistent good seller which works as a natural history picture and as an
icon for "Pristine/America's symbol/"wild and free." When you get into
eagle flight shots everyone basically wants the same wing-set (fully
outstretched, slightly cupped as it swoops in, quartering toward the
viewer. If you shoot two shots of the same eagle within 20 seconds of
each other, but one shot is further out with a strong green background,
and the next has a background of blue water as it swoops in for the
catch, are these two shots "similars"? If you shoot a different eagle,
but the average person can't tell it is a different eagle, on the same
day, but with similar backgrounds (water or trees), are the two images
similar? Is a similar angle on a bird, against a similar background,
shot two years apart, qualify as a "similar"?
For more examples of problems see the Story 162.
Story 156THE CLASSROOM IN 2005
July 8, 1998
Where will educational publishing be in 2005? This was
the theme of a recent American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP)
meeting in Chicago. Encyclopedias will certainly be on-line, but the
dilemma is that as yet the publishers haven't figured a way to charge for
Sandra Dyrlund, Senior Photographs Editor, World Book Encyclopedia said
WB would be on line, free of charge, for schools and libraries later this
year. "Everyone on the internet expects the information to be free," she
said. "But, the competition is so fierce that we have to get out there
now, even if we can't charge. If we wait until we can learn how to get
paid for what we supply, we will be dead in the water. The risk of not
being there now is greater than the risk of giving the information away
for free for a while."
Fortunately, sales of the print editions to schools and libraries are
still strong, but family sales of encyclopedias are dead. The home
market is going to CD-ROM.
Will the movement to CD-ROM from printed books mean a greater use of
pictures? Overall, NO.
Currently the print set of WB has about 27,000 images and the CD-ROM
version has about 8,000. They hope to get the numbers up to 10,000 to
12,000 for the CD-ROM because, in the retail environment, shoppers are
buying based on the numbers printed on the box. If one CD encyclopedia
has 12,000 images and the other less, shoppers will go with the one that
Currently, Encarta is leading the market with 38% of the sales.
Encyclopedia Britannica has about 24% and WB has 8%. This year WB will
buy about 200 to 275 images to update the printed versions of their book.
This is way down over what it has been in previous years.
World Book will purchase rights to about 2000 images for the CD-ROM, but
they are trying to get more rights for less money. They are currently
getting unlimited electronic use, forever, for $200 to $225. Sometimes
they will negotiate down to 20 years or 10 years use, but still with no
limitations on the number of pressings or the amount of use on-line.
World Book gets a majority of their pictures from agencies with large
files who are willing to do bulk deals for a fixed price per image.
These prices are often substantially lower than the $200 to $225 price
World Book has tried putting out two-disc sets of CD-ROMs as a way of
showing more visual material, but that doesn't seem to be working. The
customer doesn't seem to want to switch discs. This situation may
improve when DVD's become common in the home. A DVD disc holds up to
seven times the amount of information on a CD-ROM. However, by the time
DVD comes into popular use, on-line will probably be a major source for
National Geographic Society is planning to put their 30 disc set of "108
Years of National Geographic Magazine" on DVD. They believe this will
require about 4 discs.
The situation with the elementary, high school and the college markets
may be a little more hopeful. According to Keri Johnson, Senior Photo
Research Coordinator for McGraw-Hill Higher Education, the textbook
market is moving toward on-line at a slower pace.
A major growth area in this market is "on-demand" publishing. This is a
growth area within McGraw Hill although it is unclear what portion of
total revenues it represents.
With "on-demand" publishing, teachers may select various chapters, or
articles, from several books to be included in a course pack for a class
- 50 students more or less. These "course packs" often have little or no
relation to the books as originally published. Rights are licensed on a
per article or per chapter basis.
Rights are normally negotiated for a certain number of copies of a
printed work, and an additional percentage (25% or 50%) for use of the
material in a certain amount of "on-demand" publishing. For any given
book, one chapter might be heavily used and another chapter might be
seldom used. On the heavily used chapter they may have to go back and
re-negotiate rights for more usage.
A story in the Washington Post recently pointed to the declining use of
textbooks at the high school level with the following anecdote. "Sherry
Singer distributed a 1,206-page textbook last fall to all the students in
here senior science class at Fairfax's J.E.B. Stuart High School. Then
she taught the course as though the book didn't exist. Singer has never
asked her students to bring the textbook to school or discussed it in
She said that she likes to use a variety of techniques to engage the
teenagers - lab work, lectures, and student presentations - and that
following a text would be boring. 'I never say turn to Page 341' Singer
said. "Textbooks are less important these days."
If this attitude is prevalent among teachers, on-line offers some unique
advantages. At the college text level, many authors of these books are
now referring their students to various web sites.
They might talk about a manufacturing process or a business strategy of a
particular company and then refer the reader to the site of a particular
company like Campbell's Soups. When these college texts go on-line there
will be direct links to the site so all the student has to do is click in
order to read the related information. In the printed book, the
publishers often print a screen grab of the home page.
One of McGraw-Hill's textbooks coming out this fall will have a chapter
on-line with links to other web sites.
This technique, while supplying the reader - the student - some very
useful information relative to what a printed book can offer, raises some
questions that both photographers and picture researchers need to
When a photographer licenses rights for usage of an image on the front
page of a company's web site is he also licensing the right for that
picture to be printed in a book? This may need to be spelled out in
Interestingly, an employee of PhotoDisc who attended the ASPP meeting
pointed out that they had licensed an additional sale recently in just
such a situation. A company had used a PhotoDisc picture on their home
page. The company was willing to allow the publisher to publish a screen
grab of their home page, but they would not grant approval until the
publisher had cleared rights for the photo with PhotoDisc. (Even though
PhotoDisc is royalty free, it is only free to the original purchaser of
the disc and that purchaser is not allowed to give the disc, or any of
the images on the disc, to other organizations, according to the license
Another thing photographers or stock agencies could do is request that
their DOI number be placed under their image whenever they license rights
for use on any site. (See Article 145 on Selling Stock's online site.)
This way the picture researcher can easily find the image owner when
Reseachers recognize that they need to clear rights for such usages, but
often they have difficulty tracking down the photographer.
Reseachers also need to be able to do screen grabs of web sites in order
to supply digital files to their clients. Keri Johnson pointed out that
screen grabs produce much better quality reproduction than trying to
photograph the screen and they are simpler if the researcher knows what
he or she is doing.
Mary Goljenboom, President of Ferret Photo Research also outlined some of
the changes taking place in this industry. She estimated that 50% of the
images she licenses are now found on either CD-ROM or on-line. She uses
every digital resource she can get her hands on in her search for images.
She also pointed out the advantage of being able to show her client a
download of a digital file as they work to refine the concepts for a
project. In this way they can talk about specifics. The client can
define specifically what he or she does or does not like about a
particular image and it can move the research process along at a more
In some cases, Mary scans transparencies for her clients and sends them
digital files rather than letting them handle the film. This reduces the
liability of allowing these valuable transparencies to be handled by many
different people. She particularly likes to use this technique when
previous experience with a particular client has demonstrated that the
client is not particularly good at caring for images.
Many clients are beginning to prefer to have the researcher supply them
with digital files rather than incur the digitizing costs themselves.
Mary believes the industry will move much more in this direction by 2005.