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Monday, March 3, 2008

Your Studio And The New Economy

Pursuing a solid licensing strategy for now and the future will enable you to weather the storms of today's photo business reality

The list was developed when it became evident that there was a significant need to consider the Internet as a revenue source. Although I don't know any photographers who have made any fortunes in Internet-only advertising campaigns yet, adopting these standards now will get the industry familiar with the concept of specific usage rights for the online use of photography.

Consider the writers in the movie and television industries who are currently striking over this very issue as of this writing. The studios and producers are contending that the Internet is an unproven revenue generator and that's why the writers should get paid very little when their work is used online. Funnily, they said the same thing about DVDs in 1988. Unfortunately, back then, the Writers Guild bought the argument and settled for a pittance in residual payments. As it turned out, DVDs became a greater revenue generator for the studios than ticket sales.

This time, the writers are determined not to make the same mistake. And neither should we. Adopt these categories now. By doing so, you're implementing and securing a standard that will serve you in the future as the Internet evolves. There's nothing wrong with citing these categories in your current usage licenses. It will raise awareness now—putting us in the position of being prepared to make good money in an environment that's changing and growing drastically every day.

Keeping It All Together
Assigning proper usage licenses to your work is only half the battle. Tracking the expiring usage licenses and contacting the client to inquire about additional usage opportunities is the other half. It's the most annoying part of rights management. Consequently, it's the main reason photographers miss out on a lot of money every year. It's easy to dismiss following up on an expired usage license when you're busy shooting. The likelihood of the license getting renewed is hit-or-miss, and reminding an agency or a design firm about a usage-license expiration is about as much fun as making a cold call for new work.

To properly manage your usage licenses, you have to be seriously organized. Dedicate a calendar to your usage licenses. There are dozens of options available, from making a separate iCal calendar to utilizing a free online calendar at Yahoo. When a usage license expires, contact the client with an e-mail and alert them to the fact. Kindly ask them if they would like to extend the license or, as in many cases, pay for a smaller usage scope. For example, a client may not be running an ad campaign using your image anymore, but they may want to continue using the image on their Website. Ask some questions and make a deal. Even if they don't want anymore usage, you have a great excuse to talk to the art buyer and ask if he or she would like to see your latest work.


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