Fotoglif Pays Online Publishers to Use Photos

Posted on 7/14/2009 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Toronto-based Fotoglif has joined GumGum and PicApp in the ad-supported online image-licensing space. Former studio owner and Fotoglif founder Michael Betts says the business offers photographers a big opportunity, while also rewarding publishers financially.

Fotoglif launched in beta last week, offering some 3 million images from partners such as the European Pressphoto Agency, Getty Images, Newscom, Splash News, Thomson Reuters and ZUMA Press. The company also represents individual photographers, who contribute original content and earn 50% of the revenue generated.

The basis of the business model is by now familiar: each image published by Fotoglif buyers is accompanied by an ad. What is new, however, is that Fotoglif offers publishers a 20% cut of the resulting revenue. PicApp has been saying this feature is coming soon ever since its launch but has yet to deliver.

Fotoglif’s approach to promoting this feature in the media has been equally interesting. Several media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, ran stories on Fotoglif “converting infringers into partners.” In its review of Fotoglif, popular technology blog Techdirt went as far as to say that those who use images illegally should be rewarded for promoting them, as opposed to prosecuted: “Copyright law was really written for commercial infringement, and today because of its clumsy nature, it is capturing and punishing people who are really the content’s best promoters and distributors. In many ways, they should be rewarded rather than punished. And, it appears at least some businesses are trying to leverage that recognition.” (Original emphasis.)

Misguided legal theories aside, there is certainly a long-term industry benefit to encouraging legal image uses online—and sharing revenue with publishers may go a long way towards this goal. Fotoglif is also trying another similarly innovative program: an application programming interface that would give developers an opportunity to create third-party applications and earn 20% of the resulting revenue. The developer program is in closed beta.

At the time of launch, Fotoglif also announced that it has secured an initial funding round from Hong Kong-based Sun Wah Hi-Tech Group. Financial information was not disclosed.

Copyright © 2009 Julia Dudnik Stern. 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


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