Alamy and Copyright Clearance Center Offer Corporate Internal-Use Subscriptions

Posted on 11/13/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

U.K.-based Alamy has partnered with the Copyright Clearance Center, a 30-year-old American company that specializes in rights licensing and clearance, to offer large companies images for internal use on a subscription basis. The CCC-marketed offering is branded ReadyImages and consist of 1.3 million images from the Alamy inventory.

Employees of companies using the service will have open access to the images, without the typical stock-buying complexities of logging in, determining appropriate licenses, paying or tracking credits. ReadyImages can be used only for internal communications— such as training materials, company newsletters, emails and intranet postings—or in client, partner and tradeshow presentations.

Subscribers to the ReadyImages service will pay an annual fee, which has not been disclosed. Since the CCC ReadyImages Web page requires contacting the company to access this offering, it stands to reason that fees will be determined on a case-by-case basis, no doubt based on the size and other characteristics of the subscribing company: for instance, not-for-profit status could make a difference.

Alamy images used in the offering are opt-in submissions to the stock agency’s novel-use scheme. These have been vetted once more for proper model and property releases to eliminate any potential rights-related issues, causing the removal of some submissions from the collection. The company developed novel use to tap into the growing consumer and online publishing markets by licensing images to non-traditional users at lower costs. The first such product, targeting bloggers, social-network users, academics and students, launched last summer. In July, James West told Selling Stock that a corporate subscription service was in beta testing with four large U.S. companies.

Financial arrangements between Alamy and CCC were not disclosed. Secondary distributor arrangements are common for the stock-image industry and typically mean the distributor takes a percentage off the top. Contributor earnings will follow the usual revenue split between Alamy and image producers.

The commission formula has recently changed, with an additional 5% of the total reallocated to Alamy for a 7.5% decrease in photographer earnings to 60% of total. The company had linked the increase in its share to its plan to grow its U.S. business, which represents 30% of total Alamy revenues. This was not well received by all contributing photographers: While a Stateside expansion was universally welcome, some felt that current economic conditions made for poor timing. Others thought Alamy should finance the move alone, likening a distributor’s responsibility for marketing expenses to the photographers’ out-of-pocket image production costs.

The concept of novel use itself has been similarly controversial. Many traditional shooters still view microstock as devaluing photography and taking away their living. Though Alamy argues that novel uses will not interfere with traditional business, many of its contributors see it as too similar to microstock and thus potentially dangerous.

The CCC statement announcing ReadyImages said: “Employees no longer need to use unlicensed images found on the Web.” This widely acknowledged truth about unauthorized image use is among cautious photographers’ worries. Fearing that image use will not be restricted to internal audiences, one contributor asks: “How do Alamy plan to police this?”

Though this question remains without an answer, several tools and companies developed and established for this purpose already exist. In addition, Alamy’s new partner’s entrenchment in the laws, issues and businesses related to copyright can offer some comfort to the cautious.: CCC’s business lies in enabling corporations, universities and governments to lawfully use and share content. The company also collects and distributes publisher and author royalties around the world.

Though some contributor negativity is readily evident, there is also plenty of support. “I cannot understand why so many are under the impression that Alamy is out to sabotage their own business. They are simply trying to expand their market share and prosper, which benefits all of us,” says one Alamy blog comment.

Another contributor views ReadyImages as similar to charging for comping image use and a way of upselling: “Photos used in internal presentations stand a very good chance of being … licensed for the company’s advertising or Web site. Our work needs to be shown to be bought, and I think any scheme that helps with this is good. Let’s stop being so negative and help Alamy help us.”

With Getty Images’ and Jupiterimages’ changes of ownership and a21 in financial trouble, Alamy has the highest growth rate of businesses that disclose their revenues. The company has grown continuously since it was established in 2001.

With its 30-year track record and international recognition as a rights-clearance destination, CCC could potentially offer Alamy access to huge corporate clients that were not among direct stock customers. Users of other CCC offerings include the likes of The Economist and Cambridge University Press, both of which just signed on to the Rightslink online reprints and permissions service. The ReadyImages Web site quotes Bruce Bruemmer, director of corporate archives and public affairs of Cargill, a provider of food, agricultural and risk-management products and services, which employs 160,000 people in 67 countries.

Copyright © 2008 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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