Noteworthy Updates August 3, 2009

What’s Going On This Week in Photography?

Post One:

Annie Leibovitz’ mess keeps getting bigger and juicer.  I don’t know what is going on but by now I think I should offer my private coaching to help her with the business!

The world’s best portrait photographer and photographer extraordinaire can’t get herself out of her troubles. You’ve heard that her financial troubles are rather significant and that Art Capital Group came to her rescue and issued a loan of $24 million dollars. In return Annie would make payments on the loan and give the group the authority to market her art. Collateral are her negatives (huge cause of alarm for our industry) and her homes. The most worrisome part of the deal is their ability to sell her archives and the exclusive rights to arrange the sale. Getty Images is also in as they represent her in their photography assignment division “Orchard Represents.” A quick look at the site finds Annie Leibovitz’ name conspicuously absent which is due to Art Capital Group involving them in the lawsuit.

Here is a flood of articles on Gawker and plenty of comments on it shall you want to dvelve into it.

What I worry about the most is the work. Just like The Getty Trust purchased Julius Shulman’s archive and is preserving it for all of us a buyer for Annie’s archive is hopefully someone who will preserve the art. While this entire scenario is moving toward involuntary bankrupcy let us be hopeful that the work will not be ending up in the hands of someone who just wants to make a buck but understands what this really is.

Bad judgement and lavish lifestyle or not, who want’s to see this work on the butcher block going once, twice?

Post Two: Send me your copyright questions

I am getting ready to set up my call with industry attorney Nancy Wolff for my membership subscription. Please send me your copyright questions to info@PhotographyBusinessSecrets.com

Post Three: AP Protect, Point, Pay

Warning – bad language… So what’s this? The AP launched a campaign with the intent to build an online registry of content to monitor its use. This method is design to protect content from infringment. The internet got hold of the chart (the first half) and ‘fixed’ the chart to a more accurate version – the second half. I can’t credit the artist as this chart has taken a life on its own and has been featured absolutely everywhere. While in essence AP’s idea is honorable the execution will be a huge challenge. Thus far this is designed only for text, but in 2010 photo and video are supposed to be added. I’ll keep you posted, in the meantime take a look at the chart. Again, profanity warning for those who are sensitive!


CPLOe

Post Three: Stock Artists Alliance Merging With Association of Visual Artists

The Alliance of Visual Artists represents Professional Photographers of America, the Society of Sport Event Photographers, Evidence Photographers International Council, Commercial Photographers International and the Student Photographic Society. Stock Artists Alliance is entirely based on volunteer power and since it’s executive director Betsy Reid left they have been unable to fill the spot. If my memory serves me right, the SAA was founded in the spur of the moment back in the days when Getty Images came out with one of their first squeeze hard contracts for their contributing photographers, these very photographers teamed up. Almost surprised by their own success and the number of shooters joining, the SAA was formed. Unfortunately given the industry changes it appears that the SAA has lost a bit of steam and a merger will probably be a good thing. It’s a great organization that is dedicated to protecting and educating photographers and one that has done a lot of good. Check out their website for free resources. Notable especially the getMETAsmart! tour to be found here PhotoMetadata.org – a must for any digital photographer. You take that course and you’ll be up to industry standards and save yourself a lot of time for the future.

Post Four: Sotomayer and Photography

APA National CEO Stephen Best wrote this letter to all of APA’s 1600 members. While we can’t undo the appointment of Sotomayer it is important as a community to be aware of what goes on around us. My apologies for posting this letter so late, I have been out and about the last two weeks and am making myself through all the bits and pieces that you as an industry professional should know about.

APA ADVOCACY UPDATE:  Judge Sotomayor

Stephen Best, APA National CEO July 17, 2009

Dear  Friend of APA,

As the CEO of the Advertising Photographers of America (APA) a nationwide professional organization comprised of over 1,600 professional photographers, I am writing to you to express our profound concern over the possible confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.

Our members support families, employ support staff, buy and rent equipment and pay taxes.  Those obligations can be met by us and are sourced by the revenues generated by the photographic services and the licensing or sale of our imagery.  Our photography portrays historical matters, breaking news stories and is also employed in advertising  and any number of other media.   Recently Judge Sotomayor demonstrated an utter lack of understanding of the nature and value of historical and newsworthy photography.

The New York Times recently covered her strange decision at length, please see:

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/15/behind-6/

The judge upheld an award of 7$ for each historical and photojournalistic image of President Bush, Vice President Gore and any  number of US Senators and notables  lost by a Bill Gates owned company.  Rather than follow the dozens of cases across the country, in several Federal Circuits and state courts which value such photography in the range of hundreds to thousands of dollars per image, Judge Sotomayor approved a valuation identical to that used by Walgreens, CVS, Wal-Mart, Kmart and any other retail processor of amateur film, regardless of photographer and irrespective of subject.

Mr. Usher was and remains a premier photojournalist with a White House Hard Pass.  A favorite of both Presidents Clinton and Bush his images run consistently in Newsweek, Time, Business Week and similar publications.  If the judge’s valuation of this premier photographer’s images at 7$ each stands, we fear that the images of the bulk of our members may be valued at even less than 7$.  The notion is simply absurd yet Judge Sotomayor clings to it.

Corbis, Mr. Gates’ privately held company was found to be 100% liable.  It has lost similar cases where the work of photographers documenting this nation’s history and news events inexplicably went missing.  The view of our profession is that the lack of concern for the fair value of these un-recreatable lost images is astounding and inexplicable.

In this era where digital imaging is now the norm and the concepts of easy access and free use of images is destroying the copyrights of photographers, (who by law are the creators) the attitude that the value of these historical images is only $7.00 a piece incredible.  There are literally millions of such images in the hands of agents, publications, museums and archives.

If lost or stolen, it is Judge Sotomayor’s expressed opinion that since they were not being actively sold or licensed they would have virtually no value.  It is not a stretch to say that lost or stolen rare, unsold photography currently residing in universities, in government institutions and public museums would in this judge’s view, be worthless and no “real” recovery could be awarded to the owner(s) of such photography .  We have good cause for concern as to how this judge would value our copyrights under Title 17 of the US Code.  If she has no regard for the value of the actual photography, she likely has little regard for the value of the copyright(s) attached to those images.

This decision of Judge Sotomayor at the US Court of Appeals level demonstrates a profound, lack of understanding and concern of photographers’ livelihood and protection of our rights are threatened now and in the future.   Clearly in the judge’s view the rights of Bill Gates as agent, to “lose” thousands upon thousands of historical photos contributed by some of America’s top photojournalists have taken precedence over the many thousands of individual professional photographers, artists, designers and illustrators whose works have been cavalierly de-valued by the judge.

APA cannot support the confirmation of Judge Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court and we suspect that other creators of intellectual property will join us.  We urge you to at least scrutinize the candidate on her views of intellectual property and this case in particular.

Stephen Best
APA National CEO

Post Five: Pro’jekt LA Summer Series

Please note July event is past, but August and September Events are around the corner

Check website for more info: Lucie

SummerProjeckt-1

Comments

  1. says

    You are right, $24m is a huge amount, but Annie has several houses she has put up as collateral and her life’s work is worth something. There is money to be made in photography.