This site is devoted to copyright and issues of 'intellectual property,' particularly the issue's analytical aspects. It also concerns itself with the gap between public perception and the true facts, and with the significant lag time between the coverage on more technical sites and the mainstream press. For site feed, see: To see the list of sites monitored to create this site, see:

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Professional photography world in transition

Another frivilous patent ruling goes the right way.

One of my leftover readings from my days as photo editor is PhotoTalk, a blog for pro photography. There have been some links posted from there before, but two recent ones caught my attention, along with several earlier ones about stock groups partnering with video libraries. Basically, it really seems like the stock market--always a competitive one--is coping with changing norms and, yes, massive piracy by end-users by innovating and focusing on the commercial uses of their product. Of course, they also try going after the providers of replication and distribution services, which is why there have been a slate of articles about WalMart et. al not allowing pro-looking photos to be copied, but those are mostly in the private commissioned sector.
That sector, the domain of professional photographers taking pictures for a lump sum plus reprint costs--many of whom are good friends of mine, and a field from which I have earned some fairly significant sums over the last few years--is experiencing a sea change. Supply is increasing (at least that's my perception, haven't seen any hard data), as digital allows for easier training (instant feedback). There is more 'piracy,' as the cost of scanners and photo printers drops to virtually nothing. But the same technologies allow costs to dramatically go down. The DP used to spend $3K per month on film. Now we have $100K in photo equipment, but no recurring costs. One of the best pro photographers I know shoots thousands of frames per gig, something downright impossible with film. So for now the decreases in cost have offset the loss in revenue from reprints. But the business model is broken. Eventually reprints will drop to near-zero, and that revenue will be lost. One friend, at least, doesn't charge for reprints. He demands--and can get--higher rates with transfer of noncommercial rights. The striking thing is how his attitude is different. When there is commercial use of his work without authorization he goes after them, but he doesn't decry his customers as 'pirates' for making copies of his work.
Back to stock imagery, two posts. In the first, a new stock method is first allowed to exist and examined, then the withheld judgement is passed. In the second, Corbis' acquisition points out another similarity to the music industry, that the short head of the old image files are still valuable.

Wouldn't normally have posted this, but the similarities to the music/movie industries are as striking (as well they should be; they are all content industries) as the solutions are divergent. The contrast is a pretty dramatic illustration of the differences between a highly concentrated market with substantial political clout and a highly competitive one with virtually none.



Post a Comment

<< Home