311 THE SUB-AGENT SYSTEM LIVES
May 24, 2000
The sub-agent system is alive and well at both Getty and Corbis. The exact
parameters of the deals are unclear, but both organizations are clearly
signaling that they will make images available on their on-line databases from
specialist collections that they do not wholly own, and they will use sub-agents
around the world. The following deals were announced this past week.
Getty Images, has announced an exclusive deal with the National Geographic Image
Collection (NGIC) to make their images available on gettyone.com, beginning in
the third quarter of 2000.
The National Geographic Image collection has more than 10 million images and
represents over 100 world-class photographers who shoot assignments for National
Geographic magazine, National Geographic Traveler, National Geographic
Adventure, National Geographic World and National Geographic Books.
Jonathan Klein, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Getty Images. "Making
this rich resource of photographic material available on gettyone.com will
result in a vertical portal that is even more valuable to creative
professionals, providing the right image at the right time."
Through gettyone.com, the Company has aggregated hundreds of thousands of images
from its leading professional brands and, along with its partners, offers the
largest commercially available collection of photography and illustration, in
one place, on one invoice. The site will soon offer related products such as
film and video.
Maura Mulvihill, director of the NGIC said, "We are delighted to make our Image
Collection available to professional image buyers on gettyone.com. It expands
the reach of our respected brand."
In addition to its wholly owned collections gettyone.com is also acting as a
third-party sub-agent for certain collections, including The Bridgeman Art
Library, one of the world's most comprehensive sources of fine art images,
Illustration Works, a leading provider of illustration art, and FoodPix, a
leading source for food photography. It is believed that the arrangement with
all these companies is that Getty will be their exclusive worldwide
representative for on-line e-commerce sales. The one exception that the
companies would still be allowed to license their works through their own
company site that they wholly owned and operated.
NGIC is best known for photographs of travel, wildlife, adventure and scientific
imagery which are currently featured in over half of the articles in every issue
of National Geographic magazine. The
National Geographic Image Collection on gettyone.com will initially
contain 2,000 images, and the number is expected to grow to between
6,000 and 10,000. With the addition of the Collection, gettyone.com customers
will have access to thousands of photographs taken all over the world.
Corbis Images has announced partnerships with First Light and MAGMA Photo News
in Canada to provide digital images from the Corbis Collection to creative
professionals in the rapidly growing Canadian market. These partnerships
demonstrate a further move in Corbis Images' strategy of pioneering a global
network of digitally enabled partners to meet the growing needs of creative
professionals worldwide. The agreement is an exclusive agent contract.
"By working with First Light and MAGMA we expect to significantly enhance our
service to both editorial and commercial clients in Canada," said Bruce
Chesebrough, vice-president of worldwide sales, Corbis Images. "Clients will now
have one point of access for the entire Corbis Images' collection through local
offices in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, as well as the ability to transact
in either French or English and to work in Canadian dollars."
First Light and MAGMA will now provide professional clients in Canada with
access to Corbis Images' one-stop-shop offering, made up of more than 2.1
million digital images ranging in content from historical and celebrity to fine
art and contemporary photography.
First Light (www.firstlight.ca), based in Toronto and Vancouver, leads the
industry in providing high-end commercial photography to advertising and graphic
design clients. MAGMA (www.magmaphoto.com) is the leading editorial photo agency
in Canada. It provides assignment and stock photography to a broad range of
Corbis' relationship with First Light and Magma as photography suppliers are not
changed. Magma supplies images to Sygma on an ongoing basis. First Light has a
selection of images at Corbis from a previous agreement with WestLight that
Corbis will continue to represent.
First Light and Magma have formed a partnership in Canada for the purpose or
exclusively representing all Corbis products in Canada.
A client will work with a specific point of contact and receive access to all
images, and all Corbis products. Canada is the first country to receive
one-stop shopping from Corbis.
We reported in February
(Random Thoughts 15)
that Corbis also has similar
arrangements with Grazia Neri in Italy and Picture Press in Germany.
Things For Photographers To Consider
The most important thing for photographers to consider is how the percentage
deals are structured. What are the supplying agents and the selling agents
contributing to the mix and what percentage are they getting for their efforts?
A supplying agent like Geographic will probably provide editing, scanning and
keywording services for Getty. It is believed that Getty will retain a
traditional agents share of 40% to 50% of the gross fee collected for simply
managing the marketing network? This probably means that the photographer
will end up with 25%, or less, of the gross fee collected.
It is believed that if the sale is made overseas -- in Germany for example --
the Getty German office will take 50% off the top before submitting the
remainder to Getty corporate. Getty corporate takes its share before submitting
the remainder to National Geographic which gives half of what it receives to the
photographer. In all likelihood two additional agent cuts are being deducted
from the gross fee compared with the former situation where National Geographic
would make a direct sale to the German buyer.
Both companies will argue that even though the percentage the photographer
receives on an individual sale is less, that the photographer's bottom line will
improve due to the additional volume of sales. Maybe, maybe not. The bottom
line is important, but it is also important for photographers to have a
realistic understanding of how revenues are being divided.
In the Corbis situation, do First Light and Magna get 50% of the gross sale
price in Canada, or is their percentage less? In exchange for their percentage
are they contributing marketing dollars, or are they simply handling
negotiations and collections for any images found on the Corbis site? Are they
supplying images they have collected from Canadian photographers to the Corbis
Is the percentage different in such cases?
If the selling agent gets 50% of the gross sale, and then Corbis keeps 60% of
the remainder, does that mean that the photographer is getting 20% of the gross
sale price for any image sold in Canada?
Photographers represented by these companies should be asking questions and
Can Photographers Sell Directly In Foreign Countries?
It is also interesting to note that with all their marketing resources, Getty
and Corbis still recognize that they need local agent support. Both of these
companies have the resources to easily handle worldwide sales from their
headquarters. Nevertheless, they are contracting with local agencies in various
parts of the world to handle local sales for them, and they are also contracting
with specialist agencies to provide certain specialized content.
Many photographers think the internet is going to enable them to market their
images directly around the world and avoid sub-agent relationships. Getty and
Corbis are not giving up a percentage of sales to other agencies out of a sense
of charity. If they think they need such relationships, photographers might
want to think again about how much they are going to be able to accomplish
operating solely on their own, and trying to deal directly with every client.