Random Thoughts 36

Posted on 7/26/2001 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



July 26, 2001

Pictor Bankruptcy Update

The Pictor bankruptcy reorganization moves slowly. The good news is that their U.S.
sales went up to $70,786 in June compared with $54,800 in May.

However, based on records filed with the bankruptcy court total operating expenses were
$132,991 compared with $132,427 for May. Thus, the loss from operations was $62,205 in
June, still a long way from turning a profit.

Salaries and benefits alone were $72,908 in June, more than the total sales revenue.
This number is confusing because Pictor claims that they only have a staff of 8 since
they started operating the company as a "Debtor in Possession" on May 1st. If the number
of employees is correct, then based on the first two months the average annual salary of
their employees would be $106,972. This seems impossible and obviously there is
something wrong with the numbers. Either they are continuing to pay salaries to a lot
more than 8 employees, or the
salary figures they are reporting to the court are incorrect.

Rent dropped from $16,770 in May to $5,407 in June. Telephone expenses went up from
$2,818 to $6,873 in June.

The accounts payable to photographers is listed as $95,455 for the two months of
operation. This doesn't make sense either, since total sales for the period was only
$125,586 and no more than 50% of that should be owed to the photographers. It is
possible that some revenue collected from sales made prior to the bankruptcy filing is
included in this number, but all that should be used to pay bankruptcy creditors and
should not be listed as part of the "Debtor in Possession" revenue. There was no
explanation for these discrepancies in the documents filed with the court.

There was no evidence that any payments were being made to the U.S. office for sales
made in Europe by other Pictor Ltd. offices. In theory royalties for sales made by the
European offices since May 1st should be paid to the U.S office by Pictor Ltd. if the
photographer is contracted to Pictor Inc.

We understand that at least one person in Washington is working on sorting the file
images so they can be returned to photographers. This would indicate that they have no
intent to sell the operation to a company that is interested in doing file research. In
the creditors meeting in June they indicated this might be a possibility.

There remains some confusion as to where the images are stored, but it is believed that
some remain in the old Uniphoto office in Washington where the lease has been
terminated and others are stored at the home of Chris Oronsaye, the company

The creditor committee has hired bankruptcy attorney Hoyun Kim to represent their

Reuters To Buy Sipa

It is rumored that Reuters is about to buy Sipa Press in France. Marrying Reuters content with
Sipa's experience in selling news images to stock photo buyers is likely to make the
combined company the leading seller of editorial stock photography.

Reuters proposed takeover of Sipa is being interpreted as a direct result of the
establishment by Corbis of its Newsroom division.
Corbis had an agreement with Reuters to market their material through their general
archive, but Corbis was holding all images off the market for the first week in an
effort to protect their Sygma and SABA photographers.

Reuters wants a chance to sell their material to magazines during that first week when
the images are still news, not history. Corbis could not give on that point without
further upsetting their Sygma and SABA photographers.

Hence the proposed deal. Reuters is particularly interested in having control over
Sipa's experienced sale people who they believe have an inside track to the high paying
magazine picture buyers. Sipa also has a good reputation as a producer of high quality
feature material.

Sipa founder, Goksin Sipahioglu, has been courted by many major buyers over the past
few years. There have been many rumors that Sipa was about to be sold to various
buyers, but at the last minute all the deals fell through.

One issue that is likely to be a problem is the ownership of copyright. Traditionally
contributors to Sipa have retained ownership of their work. Reuters, like the other
wire services, insists on owning copyright to anything they distribute. Many Sipa
photographers are likely to resist giving up their copyright and look for a new agency
rather than sign a contract that would force them to give up rights to future, or past,

Ironically, in the past year a number of photographers have quit Sygma and joined Sipa
over the copyright issue. Now, it looks like there may be another migration.

Colorific Closing

As part of their reorganization and staff downsizing Getty is closing Colorific! a UK
agency that specialized in news, personalities and general stock used for editorial
Photographers have been left scrambling to find a way to sell their images

In a letter to photographers Anthony Harris, Getty's Director of Artist Relations,
and David Leverton, Colorific's Director of Sales said, "upon examining the News
& Entertainment brands - of which Colorific is an integral part, a number of
conflicting content issues are being addressed. As a result, Colorific will cease a
number of its third party relationships and will also cease to be a resource for stock
and travel images."

All but two of the staff were laid off this week. Those remaining will primarily handle
Newsmakers website sales. Leverton is expected to be let go shortly. Calls by customers
to the Colorific phone number are fed to an answering machine.

According to EPUK, "the brilliance of Getty's new marketing strategy was soon revealed
when a national newspaper picture editor called Colorific for a picture known to be in
their files only to be told, 'No, you can't have that now; we don't deal in stock any

Jenny Quiggin (jenny.quiggin@getty-images.com) is the future contact for photographers
who have questions about getting their images back.

Colorific had recently moved to the Allsport offices in London. It is expected that
Allsport staff will handle sales and the remaining administrative activities as the
Colorific operation winds down. On the other hand there are rumors that the Allsport
staff is also being downsized.

Raw Talent - New Agency

Bill Robbins, past president of APA/LA. will be launching a new stock photo agency
called Raw Talent. The URL will be www.rawtalentphoto.com. The agency has 67 artists
signed to contracts and six employees.

Corbis And Mobile Phones

Corbis and GignoSystem Japan, Inc. have announced that they will jointly develop a web
site offering Japanese mobile phone users the ability to customize their phones with an
exclusive selection of Corbis images. These images will be available via NTT and
DoCoMo's wireless i-mode service that currently has approximately 25 million

The images will be available through a new site called "Corbis'Gensen Sozai-shu" (or
"Corbis' Select Collection") and features images grouped in galleries across categories
including sports, fine art, nature, world travel, flowers, animals, humor, healing,
seasons, animations, etc.

Subscribers will pay Y300 per month (about $2.50) to download images directly to their
phones as screensavers, image puzzles, mobile greeting cards, or to send along to their
friends with text messages.

Copyright © 2001 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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