Jupiterimages Says European Accounting Practices Transparent

Posted on 1/6/2009 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Following recent allegations by Stefan Hartmann of VISUELL, Jupiterimages denies any wrongdoing with regard to photographer commissions and service fees in Europe.

Hartmann first wrote an article on this subject for the German-language VISUELL in late 2008. A portion of this article, which did not cite sources of information, was subsequently republished by About the Image and linked to by Selling Stock. The article alleged that Jupiterimages’ European operations have instituted accounting procedures that allowed the company to keep more revenues than its agreed-upon share, at the image owner’s expense.

Maria Kessler, vice president, creative business affairs, of Jupiterimages, says that this information is incorrect. Kessler, who is surprised that nobody had actually contacted Jupiterimages to verify these claims, suspects that the confusion surrounding this issue has to do with a change in accounting practices—a change that was entirely transparent and above board, according to the company.

In brief, Jupiterimages’ side of the story is: It does charge service fees in certain European countries, and there have also been some recent changes with the adoption of such fees by the company’s German operations. However, such fees are a separate line item on all customer quotes and invoices. They have also has not affected either licensing fees or photographer commissions. Jupiterimages has supplied a more detailed statement, republished below in full.

Hartmann is no longer with VISUELL. Though many in the industry say that the recent departure of several longtime staffers equals the demise of the print title, the Web site of the magazine’s publisher states that the next issue is due out on Jan. 15.

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Jupiterimages statement

An article about Jupiterimages’ photographer commissions and service fees appeared in a photography trade publication, which was subsequently excerpted by an online provider of information related to the stock image industry. Unfortunately, the article contained incorrect information and, as a result, has cast an improper light on our business practices. To set the record straight, we’d like to share the following factual clarification via a brief Q&A.

1. What is the Jupiterimages service fee and does it pertain to all images?
Various Jupiterimages’ offices around the world charge service fees, but the article questioned our practices in Europe. In Germany and France, Jupiterimages charges a service fee only on rights-managed images because rights-managed image sales are more service-oriented using dedicated personnel. They require added administrative time for customer-requested image searches through analog and digital archives, obtaining model and property releases, confirming editorial uses, researching sensitive subject issues and obtaining clearance in consideration of our growing worldwide distribution.

2. When did the service fee go into effect?
In France, charging a service fee for rights-managed images has been an industry-wide practice for many years. Jupiterimages Germany implemented this particular fee on April 21, 2008 as part of a new finance-based system that shared the rights-managed pricing matrix and mechanisms of our French office. The IFA Bildagentur division of the Jupiterimages business in Germany has had a long practice of charging service fees. The Jupiterimages.de business had dropped this practice for several months before this new service fee was put back into effect.

3. Do Jupiterimages’ customers know they are being charged a service fee?
Yes, the service fee appears clearly and prominently as a separate line item on both the original sales quote and the final invoice so it is not mistakenly confused with the usage fee. It is also stated in the general sales terms that are binding to the quote. In addition, service fees are explained in the general terms and conditions of any site that charges them.

4. Are Jupiterimages contributors aware that Jupiterimages pays royalties on usage fees only?
Yes, we are clear about contributor payments in our agreements. It is Jupiterimages’ worldwide practice to separate service fees from usage fees. Contributor and supplier royalties are paid on usage fees, not service fees, which is stated explicitly in our agreements.

5. When Jupiterimages Germany implemented service fees in April 2008, were usage fees reduced?
No, for all pre-existing rights-managed contracts in Germany, usage fees (and therefore contributor royalties) remained unchanged. New rights-managed sales after April 21, 2008 were quoted using the new finance system which clearly showed the service fees. Usage fees are routinely reviewed to be competitive in the marketplace. As a result they rise and fall with the market over time.

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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