May 15th, 2013

Tomas Munita, Bryan Denton to Receive Getty & Chris Hondros Fund Awards

Tomás Munita and Bryan Denton will receive Getty Images and Chris Hondros Fund Awards at a June 7 benefit and silent auction, the Hondros Fund has announced. The Chris Hondros Fund is a non-profit photojournalism organization founded by Christina Piaia to honor her late fiancé, who was killed in a mortar attack while covering the conflict in Libya in 2011. The Fund “advances the work of photojournalists who espouse [Chris Hondros's] legacy and vision, and sponsors fellowships, grantmaking and education to raise understanding of the issues facing reporters in conflict zones.”

Munita, a Chilean photojournalist who has worked in Latin America and the Middle East, among other places, is being honored for his “exceptional photographic ability coupled with a spirited commitment to the craft of photojournalism,” Piaia said in a statement. Munita will receive a grant of $20,000.

Denton, a photojournalist based in Beirut, was named a finalist for the award and will receive a grant of $5000.

“Chris was dedicated to documenting the compassion, violence and frailty that encompasses so much of our world today. It was through his personal vision and determination that were able to share some of the most powerful images from the large and small events that make up our common humanity,” said Hondros Fund board member and Getty executive Pancho Bernasconi in a statement. “The Chris Hondros Fund is proud to honor Tomás Munita and Bryan Denton and support their work to create a visual history that brings shared human experiences into the public eye.”

Related Articles:
Andrea Bruce Wins Getty Images & Chris Hondros Fund Award
Tim Hetherington, Chris Hondros: Remembering Them as They Lived

March 15th, 2013

Stalked for Protecting Copyright, Author Gets Restraining Order

Extortionletterinfo.com founder Matthew Chan

Extortionletterinfo.com founder Matthew Chan

An author who was stalked and bullied online for her efforts to enforce her copyrights has won a permanent protective order against the perpetrator, Matthew Chan, who is also in the sights of stock photo agencies for thwarting their efforts to enforce photographers’ copyrights. The restraining order reflects an increasingly vitriolic tone and no-holds-barred personal attacks against copyright holders and their attorneys on Chan’s website, extortionletterinfo.com (aka ELI).

A Georgia state court judge issued the restraining order against Chan on February 28, at the request of Linda Ellis of Marietta, Georgia. Ellis writes and markets inspirational poetry, and is the author of several books. As a result of her efforts to protect her copyright by issuing demand letters to individuals and organizations who published her work without her permission, she was subject to attacks by Chan and his followers on the ELI website.

The court said Chan’s actions “placed the petitioner [Linda Ellis] in reasonable fear for [her] safety, because [Chan] contacted [Ellis] (and urged others to contact her) and posted personal information of the petitioner for the purpose of harassing and intimidating [her].” (more…)

March 12th, 2013

Photogs Dish Anonymously About Clients’ Rates Via New Tumblr Site

A new site on Tumblr set up by an anonymous editorial photographer seeks to provide a platform where photographers can share information about what clients in all fields, from editorial to advertising to non-profits, pay photographers.

Still in its infancy, the site, Who Pays Photographers, is based on a similar Tumblr, Who Pays Writers, which, you guessed it, lists fees paid to writers. According to the anonymous founder of Who Pays Photographers, the response has been a bit overwhelming, indicating a serious interest among photographers to talk about, and read about, the fees clients pay for photographic work.

Thus far the site has information about The New York Times, Getty Images, AP, AFP, The Wall Street Journal, ESPN and several other clients in the US and abroad.

We exchanged emails with the creator of Who Pays Photographers to find out a bit more about her/his goals for the site.

PDN: How long have you worked as a photographer and in what field?

Who Pays Photographers: I’m an editorial photographer with 6 years experience, about half of that time as a staffer at a magazine, and more recently, as a freelancer.

PDN: What inspired you to start the site? Was it just a natural reaction to seeing Manjula Martin’s Who Pays Writers, or was there more to it?

WPP: The site was a simple reaction to Who Pays Writers, a site that was linked to a number of times during the recent Nate Thayer kerfuffle with the Atlantic. It seemed obvious that the photo industry could really benefit from having such a resource and I found it surprising that nothing of the sort existed. (more…)

January 15th, 2013

AFP, Washington Post Violated Daniel Morel’s Copyrights, Judge Rules

A federal court has ruled that Agence France-Press violated photographer Daniel Morel’s copyrights by distributing his images of the 2010 Haiti earthquake without permission.

The copyright infringement claims turned on whether the terms of service for Twitter, the social network that Morel used to distribute his images of the earthquake, gave AFP the legal right to download the images and re-distribute them.

“The Twitter TOS [terms of service] provides that users retain their rights to the content they post–with the exception of the license granted to Twitter and its patterns–rebutting AFP’s claim that Twitter intended to [give AFP license] to sell Morel’s photographs,” the court said. On that basis, it concluded that AFP was liable for copyright infringement.

The court also found The Washington Post, which published the images, liable for infringement.

But the court declined to rule on whether the infringement was willful, or whether Getty Images–which also distributed Morel’s photographs–is liable for infringement. The judge left those questions for a jury to decide. See our story on PDNonline for more details about the ruling.

--David Walker

Related Articles
Morel Wins Pre-Trial Victory Against AFP, Getty

Morel Releases More Evidence Against AFP, Getty in Copyright Case

Insult to Injury: AFP Suing Photographer It Stole Images From  (for PDN subscribers)

Morel Case Highlights Copyright Risks on Social Networks (for PDN subscribers)

August 15th, 2012

Getty Images Sold to Carlyle Group for $3.3 Billion

Getty Images, the largest stock photo archive, has been sold to private equity firm the Carlyle Group for $3.3 billion, according to Bloomberg, Reuters, and other sources. The sale comes three months after Hellman & Friedman, the private equity firm that has owned Getty Images since 2008, began preparations to sell the stock agency.

According to a statement released today by the Carlyle Group, Getty co-founders Jonathan Klein and Mark Getty will invest “significant equity” in the company.

Hellman & Friedman was reported to have paid $2.4 billion to buy Getty in 2008. According to news reports back in May, the firm was hoping to get as much as $4 billion for the agency.  (Full disclosure: Hellman & Friedman also owns Nielsen, parent company of PDN.)

In the past year, Getty Images has taken several cost-cutting measures. These included introducing  new terms to its contracts with photographer/contributors, cutting back royalties it pays to photographers,  and telling contributors that rights-managed images that had not sold well would be moved to royalty-free collections, while the royalty-free images would be sold as part of subscription packages. Through a statement, Getty Images told PDN that changes to its contributor contracts were needed “so that more content can be used in more ways that help our business meet current and future customer needs and grow sales.”

Related Stories
Getty IPO On Hold as $4 Billion Private Equity Sale Looms

Getty Images Preps for IPO?

ASMP to Getty Photographers: Time to Bail

July 5th, 2012

Getty IPO On Hold as $4 Billion Private Equity Sale Looms

Earlier this year Getty Images, the largest stock photo agency, retained Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase to evaluate the possibility of a sale or an initial public offering (IPO). According to reports published yesterday by The Wall Street Journal and Reuters, Hellman & Friedman, the private equity firm that owns Getty, is preparing for the second round of a bidding process that would see the stock agency sold to another private equity firm for between $3.5 and $4 billion. (Hellman & Friedman also owns PDN parent company Nielsen.)

Unnamed sources for the Wall Street Journal said the IPO was on hold while private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P. and TPG, among others, evaluated their interest in purchasing Getty. Earlier this year KKR invested $150 million in European microstock agency Fotolia.

Hellman & Friedman was rumored to have paid $2.4 billion for a majority stake in Getty Images in 2008, which was publicly traded at the time.

According to the Reuters report, Getty “has seen little growth in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) since Hellman bought it but has enjoyed increasing demand for its online imagery products and services.”

Since Getty became private, the agency has made several moves that may have been geared to making the company look more attractive to potential buyers in the lead up to a sale or IPO. The cost-cutting measures have affected its contributing photographers, and the agency has also gone through rounds of layoffs. For instance in November of last year, Getty introduced tough new contracts, cutting back royalties it pays to photographers, telling contributors that rights-managed images that have not sold well will be moved to royalty-free collections while the royalty-free images would be sold as part of subscription packages. The move drew the ire of photographers’ trade associations ASMP and APA, as well as a lengthy string of comments on our blog.

June 19th, 2012

Auction to Benefit Chris Hondros Fund to be Held June 21

A silent auction and cocktail reception will be held Thursday, June 21 in Manhattan  to benefit the grantmaking and fellowship programs of the Chris Hondros Fund. The fund, a non-profit organization, was established to honor the life and work of Chris Hondros, the award-winning Getty Images photographer killed in Libya in April 2011. It supports photojournalists through grants and a fellowship to the Eddie Adams Workshop, and it support organizations that educate the public about photojournalism.

At the reception, the inaugural Getty Images and Chris Hondros Fund Award will be given to the  winners, Andrea Bruce and  Dominic Bracco II.  Among the items being sold through the silent auction are a print by Robert Capa (donated by the International Center of Photography),  Murray Garrett’s signed 1953 portrait of Marilyn Monroe, prints by Todd Heisler, Lynn Johnson, Rick Loomis and other photographers, and the Super Bowl XLVI football, autographed by Eli Manning.

The event will be held at the James Burden Mansion from 6 to 9pm. Tickets are still available for $50.  Tickets can be bought online at www.chrishondrosfund/benefit.  Information on the Chris Hondros Fund can be found on the fund’s web site, www.chrishondrosfund.org.

Related Article
Andrea Bruce Wins Getty Images & Chris Hondros Fund Award

May 25th, 2012

AP Launches New Entertainment Agency to Challenge Getty

©Matt Sayles/Invision--Pop star Katy Perry

The Associated Press and a group of veteran entertainment photographers have launched Invision, a new photo agency based in Los Angeles. The agency will cover entertainment and red carpet events, as well as take on assignments for consumer brands, film and TV studios, and PR agencies.

Invision’s goal is to take on the dominant player in the celebrity photo business: Getty Images, which has owned entertainment agency Wireimage since 2007.

“I’ve heard from a lot of people I’ve worked with that they weren’t happy with one choice. They wanted another option,” says Invision managing director Dan Becker.

Becker, who was formerly director of commercial content and services for AP Images, says Invision will operate as a separate company from AP. The wire service is the majority owner, and will provide distribution for Invision.

So far, Invision has just one staff photographer–Chris Pizzello. Other contractors and freelancers include Matt Sayles, Evan Agostini, Jordan Strauss, Todd Williamson, John Shearer, Jon Furniss and Casey Rodgers.

Becker says there will be opportunities for other photographers, too. “We will use AP’s freelance network, but we intend to recruit other photographers and grow our own freelance network,” he says. “It’s a big part of our mission.”

Becker says he relies primarily on word-of-mouth recommendations from photographers he’s currently working with to identify new talent. “We will try people out with entry level assignments,” he says.

May 22nd, 2012

Getty Images Preps for IPO?

Reuters reports that Getty Images, the largest stock photo agency, has retained Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase to evaluate the possibility of a sale or an initial public offering (IPO). According to a source cited by the Financial Times, a sale or IPO could value the company at $4 billion.

Since 2008, the stock agency has been owned by private equity firm Hellman & Friedman. (Full disclosure: Hellman & Friedman also owns Nielsen, parent company of PDN.) Hellman was reported to have paid $2.4 billion, or $34.00 per share, for the agency which had previously been a publicly traded company.

Since Getty Images went private, the company has not disclosed any financial data to the public. The agency has made cost-cutting measures in the past year that have affected photographers who contribute to the agency. For example, last year Getty introduced tough new contracts, cutting back royalties it pays to photographers,  telling contributors that rights-managed images that have not sold well will be moved to royalty-free collections while the royalty-free images would be sold as part of subscription packages.

Related articles:
ASMP to Getty Photographers: Time to Bail

Getty Cuts Pay for Editorial Contributors

May 7th, 2012

Morel Releases More Evidence Against AFP, Getty in Copyright Case

Photographer Daniel Morel, who had his exclusive Haiti earthquake images ripped off by Agence France-Presse and Getty more than two years ago, has released more evidence in his claim against the two wire services in his ongoing fight for justice.

The new details, which are part of a motion Morel filed last month asking the judge to hold Getty and AFP liable for infringement, were sent by Morel’s lawyer to PDN and several others. They are neatly summarized by Jeremy Nicholl on The Russian Photos Blog.

Nicholl leads off by quoting an internal e-mail from AFP deputy photo editor for North America Eva Hambach:  “AFP got caught with its hand in the cookie jar, and will have to pay.” Ten days after Hambach wrote that to a colleague in March, 2010, AFP slapped Morel with a lawsuit to gag him and punish him for publicly accusing AFP of violating his copyrights.

To re-cap, Morel–a native of Haiti and a former AP photographer–was in Haiti at the time of the January, 2010 earthquake. He posted exclusive images of the destruction on his Twitpic account less than two hours later. The images were immediately stolen and re-posted under the name of another Twitter user. AFP picked up the images and distributed them under the false credit through its own image service and through Getty. They did that even though editors at both companies knew that the images were Morel’s, and that they did not have his permission to distribute them.

Morel objected. His agent, Corbis, sent take-down notices to Getty and AFP, but it took AFP two days to issue a kill notice. And when they did, they told clients and partners to kill images credited to Morel, but not the identical images that had been sent out initially under the false credit. Getty allegedly didn’t purge the images with the false credits, and continued to distribute them.

With Morel continuing to insist that his copyrights had been violated, AFP sued, and Morel fought back. Getty and AFP have done their best to wear Morel down by dragging out the process, but the photographer has refused to give up. He has already won an important decision against AFP, which argued that anything posted on Twitpic is free for the taking, according to the Twitpic terms of service. The court summarily rejected that defense.

Meanwhile, Getty continues to try to hide behind the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. The company says, in effect, that it was merely a passive provider of server space to AFP so it shouldn’t be held liable as an infringer. On the grounds that Getty is AFP’s partner and an active marketer and distributor of AFP images, Morel is asking the court to reject Getty’s DMCA defense.

What it boils down to is a case of two companies bullying a photographer they got caught stealing from. AFP and Getty aren’t the first to move images without permission in a cutthroat business that has a history of steal-now-and-apologize-later tactics. What’s unusual is the unwillingness of the two companies to own up to their ethical lapse and legal breach by apologizing and quietly paying to settle it.

We contacted Hambach to ask her about the internal repercussions of her “cookie jar” e-mail. Was she taken to the woodshed for it? Is there any sign that AFP is taking stock of its policies with regard to recouping images? “I can’t talk about this now,” she said, ending the conversation at the mention of her e-mail.

A hearing on Morel’s motion for summary judgment is scheduled for July. The judge is unlikely to issue a decision before fall.