Magazine article Editor & Publisher

From Page One to Your Office Wall

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

From Page One to Your Office Wall

Article excerpt

Taking advantage of the Web and digital photo archives, newspapers are selling their wares

Newspapers are looking at their photo files differently these days. Not only do they have to adjust to digital rather than negative files, but also to different ways of fulfilling the requests of their readers. Many newspapers are looking to market the pictures that once languished in the libraries awaiting an anniversary or a related news event to justify republication.

Photographers are also discovering that their pictures long-forgotten have a new life, often without their approval or benefit, since the copyrights belong to the employer, with the exception of some free- lancers who have not signed away their rights.

The conflict between photographers and newspapers is analogous to an ordeal the movie industry went through beginning in 1948 when the Screen Actors Guild realized that movies made for theatrical release under the studio system were appearing on tv. That issue didn't get resolved until 1960 when a five-week strike led by Ronald Reagan, then guild president, led to contract terms that included residual payments for actors for movies made after 1960.

In 1999, the National Press Photographers Association, which in the past avoided the rights issue, changed its bylaws to allow its officers to comment on what had previously been considered a labor-relations issue outside its purview.

That is not to say that all newspaper photographers are ready to demand a piece of the subsidiary sales pie. John Long, a Hartford Courant photographer and active nppa member, says. "I traded my rights for a full-TIMe job , and I'm not sorry. I'm a lousy businessman, For me, it worked out fine." But it is an issue that may come to a head soon.

Even without the aggressive marketing of other image owners on the Web, newspapers have seen a new demand for their file pictures and have instituted new methods for dealing with the volume.

Lupe Salazar, rights and permission manager for the Los Angeles TIMes, says, "Sales [in her department] have increased tremendously in the past few years."

The TIMes has a "rights and permissions" hotline with a menu that includes an option for a faxed copy of a reprint request, all done without human intervention. A voice warns, however, at the outset that there are "no photos for personal use." (Someone whose picture has appeared in the paper, however, can get a print from the photo department.)

The New York TIMes and The Washington Post do offer some of their historic photos for personal use, perhaps to frame and hang in the home or office.

The New York TIMes is aggressively marketing some of its images for personal use through full-page ads in the newspaper. One ad offers six images, marking the 20th anniversary of the "Science TIMes" section, as "exhibition quality 11"x14" black-and-white matte print(s), hand- printed from vintage photographs housed in TIMes Photo Archives."

They are priced at $1,000 for the six or $195 each ($900 and $175 for home-delivery customers) and depict Albert Einstein, Margaret Mead, Orville Wright in flight, an mit computer, Sir Edmund Hilary on Mt. Everest, and someone receiving a polio vaccination. The last picture, by Ernie Sisto, is the only one for which the photographer is identified.

Another New York TIMes ad, "Photographic Memories," offers six other photos from the "Statue of Liberty Photo Collection" for the same prices, except that the photographer of five of the six pictures is identified and signed prints of these five are offered at $500 each or $2,500 for all six ($450 and $2,250 for subscribers). …

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