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March 23rd, 2011

Sygma Archive Update: Kiss Those Images Goodbye

Several weeks ago, a trustee in charge of millions of old news images in the Sygma archive tamped down rumors that the archive would be destroyed. That quieted the general outrage, and may have left photographers who still have images in the archive with some hope that they might be able to reclaim the images.

But no. The trustee has told PDN (and various photographers who have also inquired) that it is too late to claim the images. The trustee is mum about what will become of the archive, though.

“I inform you that rights of photographers to make claims for their pictures and slides has expired,” a spokesman for the trustee, Stéphane Gorrias, told PDN in an e-mail last week.

The images have been under the control of Gorrias since Corbis, which bought Sygma in 1999, walked away from the collection in May, 2010. Corbis abandoned the collection because it was fed up with financial losses and lawsuits over missing images.

When rumors began circulating at the end of February that Gorrias had said he would destroy the images, photographers and their trade groups began circulating word on Twitter and elsewhere to encourage former Sygma photographers to claim their images.

But it is too late to do that, apparently, and Gorrias’s spokesperson informed us that the “pictures and slides will be simply archived.” She added, “Remaining at your disposal for further information.”

We certainly asked for further information: Who is paying to archive the images? And for how long? Surely there must be a plan to dispose of the archive somehow, because it makes no sense to archive the images indefinitely. So what is the plan?

We received no answer to those questions. The images have apparently gone to picture purgatory, out of reach of the photographers who own them, and headed for some unknown fate. Will they be destroyed after all? Put out on the curb with the trash or recycling? Hocked at a pawn shop in Paris? Put into a cave where future generations can rediscover them, and marvel at them?

Only one man knows, and we await his call.

Related:

Did Twitter Just Save 10 Million Sygma Images?

March 22nd, 2011

Stock Photographers’ Advocacy Group SAA Shutting Down

The Stock Artists’ Alliance has informed its member photographers that it will be dissolving as a trade organization next month because “resources to keep [it] vital are diminishing.” SAA made the announcement today in a letter to members that was signed by former officers including Roy Hsu, David Sanger and Betsy Reid.

SAA blames competitive pressures in the stock photo industry for squeezing the organization’s resources. “We have seen a dramatic downturn in stock licensing revenue for most photographers and a steady decline in SAA membership,” the group told its members.

Over the past six months, SAA has been weighing its options for the future. SAA officers concluded that “the best choice is for photographers to consolidate their affiliations in support of larger, established organizations, which are in a better position to address a broader range of image licensing issues.”

The SAA formed in 2001 to advocate for Getty Images photographers, who were under pressure from the agency to accept less favorable contract terms. More generally, SAA’s mission was to protect the interests of photographers shooting traditional rights-managed stock photography.

At the time, the royalty-free stock photography model was driving down prices of rights managed stock. That reduced  profit margins for photographers and agencies alike. Getty used its clout to press photographers for contract concessions.

Microstock, a business model that drove stock photo prices down even more, made the rights-managed stock model even less sustainable. SAA moved its line of defense, eventually accepting royalty-free photographers as members in 2007. But by then even that business was eroding under the downward pricing pressures of microstock, forcing many stock producers out of the market.

In addition to advocating for photographers on contract issues, SAA says it helped photographers retrieve unpaid royalties, brought internet infringement to the industry’s attention, educated photographers, and helped them resolve disputes with distributors.

“We are proud of SAA’s accomplishments,” SAA officers said in their prepared statement. “It have proven that even a relatively small organization, driven by passionate and dedicated leaders and supported by members, can change the status quo.”

March 1st, 2011

Did Twitter Just Save 10 Million Sygma Images?

Rumors circulated on Twitter over the weekend that about 10 million archival images from the collection of the defunct French picture agency Sygma were about to be destroyed. The images have been under the control of a liquidation trustee since Corbis, which bought Sygma in 1999, finally got fed up last May with financial losses and lawsuits over missing images, and walked away.

Reports of the impending destruction of the images alarmed photographers and their trade groups, which have been eager to spread word that photographers with images in the collection should claim them. But Corbis spokesperson Dan Perlet says it was “a storm in a tea cup” swirling around a false rumor. “These things get started on a Friday afternoon when everyone is bored and on Twitter,” he says. Perlet says that Stéphane Gorrias, the liquidation trustee, “has always said to us that he had no intention of destroying [the images.]”
(more…)

February 18th, 2011

Sponsored Post: Why WIN-Initiative is the Stock Agency to Watch

Click on the picture to watch the video!



So you’ve heard of WIN-Initiative, an alternative boutique stock agency, right?

If you haven’t, there’s no doubt that you will soon. WIN is becoming more and more visible on the photo industry radar.

What’s going on at WIN? We’re shaking things up by pursuing authentic, provocative and inspiring images.

Can stock really be a fun way to make an additional stream of income? Yes, we want to show you a way that is “stock monster” free. We focus on artistic work so you can enjoy being creative again.

(more…)

December 6th, 2010

Corbis Lands Syndication Contract with VII

©Lynsey Addario/VII Network/VII/Corbis--from the Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan, October, 2007.

Corbis announced today that it has struck a deal to syndicate the work of photojournalists represented by VII Photo Agency. Stephen Mayes, managing director of VII, says the deal is “co-exclusive,” also allowing VII to syndicate its images directly to clients. The contract is for three years, and replaces VII’s syndication deal with Associated Press.

“AP has been good to us. This doesn’t represent a failure on their part, but they are not able to offer the global depth of distribution that Corbis offers,” Mayes says.

VII considered several distribution partners, according to Mayes. The decision to select Corbis “wasn’t just about money,” he says, but about strategy, service, and mutual interests. “Corbis seemed to get the most out of it, and offer the most in return.”

VII represents more than 30 photographers who specialize in documenting social, environmental, and political issues and conflicts around the world.  The VII collection includes about 50,000 images from the 1990s to the present day.

“For the past decade, VII photographers have immersed themselves in the story and captured stunning images that have made an impact around the world,” said Anil Ramchand, Director of News, Sports and Entertainment at Corbis. “Our new agreement with VII underscores our commitment to providing Corbis clients with exceptional photography to tell inspired stories.”

December 1st, 2010

Corbis Inks Print-on-Demand Consumer Deal

Corbis and warehouse retailer Costco have announced a deal to offer print-on-demand photographs, posters, and giclée canvas prints through nearly 600 Costco stores around the world. Corbis has made more than 20,000 travel, nature, landscape and other images available for the program, which has alarmed some of its contributors.

Costco and Corbis expect customers to purchase images as decor for homes and small businesses, including restaurants and hotels.

Corbis described the deal as a “large new market opportunity for contributors” because Costco has “tens of millions of customers.” Spokesman Dan Perlet says Corbis has licensed images for posters in the past, but the Costco deal is the agency’s first print-on-demand deal. (more…)

September 16th, 2010

iStock Angers Contributors with New Royalty Formula

Microstock distributor (and Getty subsidiary) iStockphoto has announced plans to change it’s royalty structure to reward contributors who bring in the most revenue over the short term, instead of rewarding contributors for accumulating downloads over time. The new system, which is designed to increase iStock’s gross profits, takes effect in January.

iStock COO Kelly Thompson’s announcement about the changes on September 7 drew hundreds of responses from contributors. Many concluded that they would lose income under the new system, and expressed their outrage.

(more…)

July 20th, 2010

Photographer Cut by Getty for Altered Golf Photo Offers Explanation

Golfer-before The freelance photographer we told you about yesterday who was dropped by Getty after one of his images of a golf tournament was found to have been digitally altered has offered an explanation of what happened.

Marc Feldman, whose freelance status with Getty was terminated over the altered photo, told the Dallas Morning News he made "a fatal mistake."

"There was absolutely no intent to pass this off as a real image," Feldman explained to Dallas Morning News photo editor Guy Reynolds for the paper's Photography Blog. "Only a moron would have sent both."

A photo Feldman captured of golfer Matt Bettencort was distributed by
Getty Images even though a caddie had been digitally removed from the
background. Getty, which has a strict policy against altering its news
images, later put out a "mandatory kill" notice on the photo after Reynolds alerted them to it, and dropped
Feldman from its roster.

Feldman, 61, told Reynolds that he was in the press tent processing the images when Bettencort and his caddie stopped by to look at the photos. The caddie then suggested the photo would look better without him in it.

Matt Bettencourt 2 copy-thumb-300x190-86601 "So I showed them how easy I could do that," Feldman told Reynolds. "I thought I just saved it to the desktop not to the send folder. I certainly did not mean to send both of them to Getty."

What do you think about Feldman's explanation? Does it sound like a plausible, honest mistake? Have you ever done anything similar? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

July 19th, 2010

Getty Photographer Dropped Over Altered Golf Photo

Photo-kill Getty Images has severed ties with a freelance photographer after an image he captured of a golf tournament was determined to have been altered with software.

The photographer, Marc Feldman, was cut by Getty after the manipulated image was discovered by a photo editor at the Dallas Morning News.

"Getty Images actively advocates and upholds strict guidelines pertaining to the capture and dissemination of its editorial content," Getty's public relations manager Jodi Einhorn wrote PDN in an email.

Golfer-before "As such, when Getty Images was made aware of (the) altered image in our coverage of this event, it was immediately removed…from our website and a mandatory 'kill' request was sent to our feed-based subscribers. In adherence with our zero tolerance policy on photo manipulation, we terminated our relationship with freelance photographer Marc Feldman."

The story broke when photo editor Guy Reynolds of the Dallas Morning News stumbled on the altered image while perusing photos of the Reno-Tahoe golf tournament. Reynolds found two Getty images of golfer Matt Bettencourt, one showing him with a caddy behind him, the other with just trees.

At first Reynolds thought the images were shot by two different photographers from slightly different angles but, as it turns out, both were credited to Marc Feldman, a Getty freelancer.

After inspecting the images more closely, Reynolds discovered they were the same shot but "one had been doctored with software to remove the other man."

Reynolds contacted Getty's picture desk in New York about the images and a "Mandatory Kill" advisory (to the right, above) was sent out shortly thereafter.

(Via Dallas Morning News' Photography Blog.)