What Did VCG Buy?

Posted on 3/3/2016 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

It seems to me that all VCG bought when they acquired Corbis was:
    1 – The right to put out a press release saying, “We are the largest stock photo source in China,”
    2 – The removal of Corbis content from ImagineChina, which many believe was previously the largest stock photo agency in China, and
    3 – We bought a company from Bill Gates.
Rumor has it that Bill Gates was paid $225 million for Corbis.

VCG had no intentions of ever having any direct dealing with Corbis customers or contributors.

It was their plan all along to rely totally on Getty Images to integrate some of the Corbis images into its collection.

VCG operates a portal that provides its customers with Getty content. Now, that portal will also contain the Corbis content that Getty decides to migrate. But the content Getty is expected to migrate will be far less than all the content currently on the Corbis site.

The websites of Gettyimages.com, iStockphoto.com and Shutterstock.com are blocked so no Chinese customer can access them directly.

VCG had no intentions of integrating some or part of the Corbis image collection into their collection. This way they have none of the costs or problems of dealing with Corbis’ extensive customer base around the world, or with Corbis contributors. Getty will handle all the work and cost involved in making images available for VCG to sell in China. Getty will have to handle the messy interactions and contracting arrangements with contributors as well as with Corbis customers outside of China.

If VCG makes a sale in China of a Getty Image they remit a share of that sale to Getty. Getty pays the image creator a percentage of what they receive. In the same way, if ImagineChina had made a sale of a Corbis image they remitted a portion of that sale to Corbis. The percentage of the gross fee paid in China that goes to the parent agency probably doesn’t change that much, but Getty is offering creators a lower royalty share so the amount the creator receives from Chinese sales will probably be less.

The deal has positioned VCG to grow its customer base in China by being able to say that it represents the imagery of both Getty and Corbis. This, however may not have that great of an effect on ImagineChina.

What About ImagineChina?

It should be noted that ImagineChina still has a very strong editorial collection and directly represents editorial sellers throughout the world. They also get editorial content from creators and publishers all over China. Chinese picture buyers tend to prefer ImagineChina when they are searching for editorial stock material.

In additional their editorial news service, ImagineChina has a strong commercial stock service http://creative.dfic.cn/ and represent more than 100 collections and agencies with some very good exclusivity. Learn more about the commercial offering here.  This very large collection existed long before they began representing Corbis. The collection is also tightly edited for a Chinese audience, totally bilingual and has many technical tools for designers that cannot be found with the competition. The size of the collection continues to grow with some very good collections added recently.

When it comes to losing a large historical collections Bettman, Jerome Lacrosniere, CEO of ImagineChina points out that, “we have exclusive representation in China of Magnum, AP Historical Archives, RMN, Roget Viollet, National Gallery, British Museum and Alinari to name a few. These are very large, rich and unique collections. It is easy for us to channel our customers to this archival material rather than to Corbis.”
Jerome added, “Clients used to find Corbis material on our service where it was integrated by API. Sales of Corbis material only represented 10% of our total revenue in 2015. We did not originally work with Corbis for their content, but for the "Corbis Brand". This helped us accelerate access to Chinese advertisers and Chinese brands and helped increase our commercial business in China. However, we believe the Impact of losing Corbis will remain marginal for us.”

Most of the former Corbis clients in China have already migrated to the Imaginechina Creative website.

Copyright © 2016 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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