21st January, 2010 - Posted by admin - 1 Comment
Could it get any easier?
Web designers, advertisers and bloggers can choose from million of pictures – everything from shots of Afghan voters lining up to cast ballots in their presidential election to one of the sun setting behind the Golden Gate Bridge – thanks to traditional stock and microstock photo companies delivering the right, high-quality image for any need.
But as users have gained unprecedented access to these images, the combined theft of stock and microstock photos comes to as much as $10 billion a year. As evidenced by the recent controversy over the Los Angeles Times lifting copyrighted, all-rights reserved photos of wildfires from the image-hosting site Flickr, confusion over image rights reigns supreme.
File sharing in the music industry has led to the targeting of the worst violators with court injunctions or hefty fines. An industry-backed proposal approved by the French Parliament last year and another scheduled to go before the British Parliament calls for cutting the Internet connection of the most active file sharers. This comes just as microstock is drawing battle lines through consolidation – Shutterstock announced its acquisition of BigStockPhoto and the addition of image warranties – all at the end of last year , iStockphoto followed Vivozoom’s lead in offering a guarantee against any legal challenges to its images by covering the expenses of a claim.
Yet when it comes to stock and microstock companies, rigorously enforced theft-busting measures are uncommon. According to PicScout (www.picscout.com), a company that uses image-recognition technology to track content on the Internet, some 85 percent of the rights-managed images detected on commercial websites are being misused.
Stock image libraries are not the only ones to lose out: Photojournalist Leif Skoogfors has risked his life covering armed conflicts in Northern Ireland and Bosnia for Time and Newsweek. In spite of his hard work, he has lost $180,000 in income on two of his photos widely lifted from the Web.
“This is not an isolated incident,” said Skoogfors’ attorney Nancy R. Frandsen, who specializes in copyrights and trademarks for the law firm of Woodcock Washburn and has represented both sides in the larger intellectual property dispute. “It is the same copyright infringement issue that the music industry is fighting. But who has more money and therefore more power to lobby the government?”
Tools designed to search for photos online, such as Google Images, have undermined the copyright concept. When thousands of photos are easily located and copied at no cost with a couple of mouse clicks, where’s the incentive to pay? Like Napster, this has encouraged theft.
Stock and microstock theft totals $10 billion a year, based on PicScout’s 85 percent figure and the estimated $2 billion annual stock image market. With such staggering losses, the stock industry should feel compelled to respond with the same kind of vigilance as the music industry. But this is the stock industry’s dirty little secret, a cocktail of apathy, incompetence and greed.
“Nearly everyone who uses unauthorized copyrighted photos has a good chance of getting away with it,” Skoogfors said. “Often, they aren’t even aware they’re illegal.”
Photographers have detailed on such sites as the MicroStock Diaries instances of their pictures, distributed through larger stock companies, uploaded by violators to competing stock and microstock outlets and sold as their own. The photographers are now finding themselves having to police the sites while the agencies fail to address the thefts.
No one’s denying the benefits that come with such ease of use online. Photographers want publishers to find their pictures. Distributors require a thriving business. But in a culture where theft is euphemistically known as sharing, where 17 of every 20 stock images used on commercial sites are stolen, how can anyone expect photographers and producers to make a living let alone survive in an environment where such costly crimes are met with silence?
Lawrence Gould, CEO and co-founder of the microstock company Vivozoom (www.vivozoom.com), was previously the CFO of Getty Images.
15th January, 2010 - Posted by admin - No Comments
Happy Holidays everyone.
I thought it would be a good time to update everyone regarding recent developments at vivozoom.
Overall Sales Progress
Sales have been progressing well, but not as fast as we would like, largely because of the difficult market conditions and some increasingly aggressive competition.
To address this we are investing in more viral marketing. Driving this forward is our PR company who are delivering a lot of good coverage in the USA (see attached) and ramping up public relations in the UK as well. Also, to take advantage of various social networking sites, we have set up vivozoom Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Keeping our contributors as well as our clients informed is extremely important to us. Remember we have an excellent Affiliate program you can participate in to earn money and drive business to the site.
I am delighted to let you know that vivozoom’s first batch of royalty payments were paid out recently. With continued efforts focused on marketing the benefits of vivozoom as well as re-invigorating our online advertising campaign, we anticipate a steady increase in royalties over the next several months. Please make sure you file you W8-BEN with us (for non-US citizens) to avoid delays in receiving your royalty payments.
As you may or may not know, you can keep track of your sales and the supporting transactions via your vivozoom dashboard on http://submit.vivozoom.com.
Given that one of our main selling points to our clients is a premium collection with relevant searches, our editors have spent the last several months improving image keywords on the vivozoom site. During this project, we have found that several contributors are keyword “spamming” (attaching irrelevant keywords to images just so they will pull up in searches). Please keep all captions short and sweet and only include relevant keywords.
We have many new (mostly customer facing) changes coming to the site, including some exciting browse functionality!
As I mentioned earlier, vivozoom can be found on some of the most popular social networking sites. You can now follow vivozoom on Twitter, become a fan of vivozoom on Facebook and a company blog is currently in the works. We hope to keep all of our contributors up to date on company news and information including content needs, trends, industry news and general information.
With the holidays surrounding us all at this time of year it is a great opportunity to focus on holiday images. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and New Year’s Eve are just a few of the holidays celebrated in December alone. These images would be great additions to the vivozoom archive for next year. Now is also the time to focus on spring holidays, which are just around the corner. Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and Passover are some of the more common holiday images requested by clients. Lifestyle and still life images representing these holidays will be next on clients’ project lists.
Also, the Winter Olympics and World Cup Soccer will both take place in 2010, so requests for winter sports and soccer images will surely be on the rise over the next several months. So, start shooting.
Keep in touch
As I have mentioned before, I will continue to send out these emails on a regular basis – but I would love to hear from you as well.