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January, 2016

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Corbis Details VCG Migration Plans to Getty Images

Corbis wasted no time detailing to photographers how the transition from being a Corbis photographer to a Getty Images photographer will take place, in an email sent out with a FAQ. While the FAQ went into great detail. What was abundantly clear was that Corbis will no longer exist in short order.

Yesterday, Photo Business News detailed the sale of Corbis to Visual China Group (SHENZEN: 000681) subsidiary Unity Glory as well as the same-day announcement of what clearly looks like an end-run around anti-trust laws by Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) when they announced the worldwide exclusive arrangement with Getty Images.

A message yesterday was sent from Jeff Enlow (LinkedIn: Jeff Enlow) to contributors which makes it clear  that Getty is getting all (or, to be more specific, everything they want and think is of value) from Corbis. In it, Enlow wrote:

Hey All,

I wanted to send you all a note about the sale of Corbis. My last day will be February 5th. I will do what I can to help you guys out in that time. Anil will be on for a while longer as well to help with the transition, so anything I’m not able to do you can reach out to him.

Please take a look at the faq sent out
Contributor link: http://forum.contributor.corbis.com/corbis-vcg-getty-images-you/

I’ve pasted a few portions here:

“Contributors who are not invited to sign directly with Getty Images will remain contracted to VCG according to the terms of your Corbis agreement.”

We are still waiting on the exact details of how this would work.

When will I know if I’m being offered a direct contract with Getty Images?

Invitations for direct contracting and content migration will take place over the course of the coming weeks, once all invitations have been delivered, contributors will be notified that the process is complete.

What happens to those contributors who are not invited to join Getty Images?

Contributors who are not invited to sign directly with Getty Images will remain contracted to VCG according to the terms of your Corbis agreement. At VCG’s discretion these contracts may be offered termination, in which case you will be notified by VCG. Regardless, you are welcome to apply to work directly with Getty Images through the Work With Us application process (http://workwithus.gettyimages.com/en).

If Getty Images does not offer me a contract, or I don’t want to sign with Getty Images, will the Corbis contract continue with VCG?

Yes. Contributors who are not invited to sign direct with Getty Images, or choose not to, will remain contracted to VCG according to the terms of your Corbis agreement. At VCG’s discretion these contracts may be offered termination, in which case you will be notified by VCG.

SO:

1.    If you may want to sign on to Getty just sit tight and someone will reach out to you.

2.    If you know you absolutily do want to be apart of the VGS/Getty deal then you need to send a termination letter to Contributor Relations <Contributor.Relations@corbis.com>
In it say you want to terminate your contract, to pull all your images, and that you want no survival rights on them.
It will be up to VGS/Getty weather they will honor that or make you wait out the remainder of your contract. But that is the first step and it will be on record.

If you have any other questions please let me know here.

Last if you want to keep intouch after all of this my personal info is

enlowphotos@gmail.com        
415-317-2698
www.enlowphotos.com
https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeff-enlow-118b8ba
https://www.facebook.com/jeff.enlow
https://www.instagram.com/enlowphotos/

Its been great working with you all and I look forward to the next journey.

Jeff
Jeff Enlow
Editor News Sports and Entertainment


(Continued after the Jump is the announcelemtn and FAQ)

Corbis, VCG, Getty Images & You!

Today Corbis is announcing the sale of the Corbis Images (excluding Splash), Corbis Motion, and Veer licensing businesses to Unity Glory International, an affiliate of the Visual China Group (VCG), a leading Chinese visual communications and new media business.
In connection with this transaction, VCG is excited to announce the expansion of its longstanding partnership with Getty Images, and, following a transition period (which we’ll explain in more detail), Getty Images will become the exclusive distributor of Corbis content outside China.
As a valued contributor, we want to be sure you understand what these announcements mean for you and your content and the opportunities they represent for you going forward.
As part of this transaction, your existing Corbis agreements have transferred to VCG, however in practical terms nothing changes for the time being. The Corbis sites, licensing and royalties processes will continue to operate as they do today.
Over the coming months, select content from the Corbis collections will be identified and invitations will be extended to you for migration of those files to Getty Images. For those of you whose content is selected who do not currently work directly with Getty Images, you will be offered a direct contract that will apply to migrated content and any new submissions you choose to make going forward to Getty Images. If your content is selected and you are already contracted to Getty Images, you will be offered an assignment letter to move content selected for migration to your existing Getty Images’ agreement.
During this transition period, all content will continue to be available through Corbis, and, as it’s migrated, content will also become available through Getty Images. Content that is not migrated to Getty Images will either continue to be represented by VCG, or distribution rights will be returned to contributors.
We’re very excited to represent your great content and look forward to expanding its reach through the unparalleled global sales and distribution network of Getty Images to almost one million customers in nearly 200 countries.
We’ll be sharing more specifics on the migration process over the coming weeks, but in the meantime please refer to our FAQ for additional details.
CONTRIBUTOR Q&A
About the announcement: 

What is the news we’re announcing today?

Today, Corbis announced the sale of its content licensing business to Unity Glory International, which is an affiliate of the Visual China Group (VCG), a leading Chinese visual communications and new media business. This sale includes the images and motion archives from Corbis Images, Corbis Motion, and Veer, and all their associated brands and trademarks. The sale does not include the Branded Entertainment Network, Splash, or Greenlight, its rights clearance and representation business.

Subsequent to the sale, Getty Images, the world leader in visual communications, and VCG announced a global distribution partnership which will see customers globally benefit from an unprecedented content offering. The existing Getty Images collection of almost 200 million images spanning creative and editorial, stills and video, contemporary and archival, is expanding to include Corbis imagery, video and historic archival content. This content will be available to customers in China via the VCG platform and to the rest of the world via Getty Images’ global sales teams and industry-leading website, gettyimages.com.

What is Unity Glory/VCG acquiring?
Under the terms of their agreement with Corbis, Unity Glory/VCG is acquiring the assets and brands of Corbis’ Images division, one of the world’s leading image archives and licensing businesses. Going forward, it will own and manage the images and motion archives, names and trademarks associated with the Corbis Images, Corbis Motion and Veer licensing brands.

Corbis is not selling the businesses in its Corbis Entertainment division, so, going forward, Corbis Entertainment will continue to own and operate its Branded Entertainment Network, Splash and Greenlight, its rights representation business, under a different brand.

Why is Getty Images partnering with VCG on this?
As the most trusted and esteemed source of visual content in the world, Getty Images is always innovating to bring its customers the most comprehensive offering of diverse and high quality content in the market. The addition of Corbis content to Getty Images’ industry-leading collection means Getty Images now offers customers an unprecedented breadth and depth of gold-standard content across creative and editorial, stills and video, and contemporary and archival.
Getty Images is the trusted partner to a network of over 200,000 contributors and content from approximately 330 existing image partner relationships, including prestigious partners NBC Universal, BBC Worldwide and AFP.

What happens to Corbis moving forward with the business that they aren’t selling?
Corbis will be focused on building and growing its entertainment advertising business under a different brand. The sale does not include the three Corbis Entertainment businesses – the Branded Entertainment Network, Splash and Greenlight, its rights clearance and representation business.
Corbis Entertainment will be rebranded under a new name in the coming months.

What does this mean for contributors? 

How will the VCG/Getty Images deal benefit me?
Corbis content will reach a wider audience throughout the world via Getty Images’ industry-leading site and global sales team, and in China via VCG.
Corbis contributors who are not already represented by Getty Images may be invited to become GI contributors:
    • Creative contributors will benefit from working with the industry’s largest and most experienced Creative team – trend insight researchers and award-winning art-directors who understand what imagery brands and businesses will be looking for tomorrow
    • Editorial contributors will benefit from being part of our global award-winning editorial team, covering the most exciting, important and interesting things happening 24/7 around the world.
    • Contributors with archive and historical content will benefit from working closely with our dedicated team of global archive editors and will be represented alongside some of the most important names and collections in the history of photography. 
  • When will I know if I’m being offered a direct contract with Getty Images?
    Invitations for direct contracting and content migration will take place over the course of the coming weeks, once all invitations have been delivered, contributors will be notified that the process is complete.
    What happens to those contributors who are not invited to join Getty Images?
    Contributors who are not invited to sign directly with Getty Images will remain contracted to VCG according to the terms of your Corbis agreement. At VCG’s discretion these contracts may be offered termination, in which case you will be notified by VCG. Regardless, you are welcome to apply to work directly with Getty Images through the Work With Us application process (http://workwithus.gettyimages.com/en).
    Will Getty Images migrate all of my content or just a smaller selection?
    Content selected for migration will be case by case – some entire portfolios will be invited for migration and others will be partial selections.
    What criteria will Getty Images use to select the Corbis content it will invite for migration?
    Content selection for migration to Getty Images will be based on a variety of criteria including license history, uniqueness, quality and exclusivity of content.
    What are the specifics of the agreement I’m being offered by Getty Images?
    In general, standard Getty Images agreements will be offered, but it is understood that in some cases there are unique circumstances that will need to be addressed.
    If Getty Images does not offer me a contract, or I don’t want to sign with Getty Images, will the Corbis contract continue with VCG?
Yes. Contributors who are not invited to sign direct with Getty Images, or choose not to, will remain contracted to VCG according to the terms of your Corbis agreement. At VCG’s discretion these contracts may be offered termination, in which case you will be notified by VCG.
So what is happening to the Corbis site once content has been migrated to Getty Images?
During the transition period, VCG and Getty Images will evaluate how best to improve the value and benefits for Corbis customers globally and will reach out to customers in the coming weeks.
Can I still submit content to Corbis during the transition period?
There will be a short window of ongoing submissions but we want to ensure there is time to process content that is currently in our production queues. We would advise you do not submit further content if possible and instead wait for Getty Images invitations. Once signed to Getty Images you will have access to direct submission processes there.
I want to terminate my contract with Corbis, how do I do this?
Your contract has been re-assigned to VCG as part of this transaction, the same termination terms and process remain in place. Please refer to your contract for specific information. 

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

Corbis Sale to Unity Glory (and Getty)

The sale of Corbis to Unity Glory, a Beijing China headquartered company, and the simultaneous announcement that Getty has an exclusive global distribution partnership with the parent company – Visual China Group, foretells the continued demise of the stock photography industry, and as well, Getty Images.

Corbis website announces sale.

One of the things that is remarkable about this, is that the following sentence appears at the beginning of a press release on the Corbis website:

“NEW YORK (January 22, 2016) – Getty Images, the world leader in visual content and communications, and Visual China Group (“VCG”), a leading Chinese visual communications and new media business, today announced an exclusive distribution partnership that will enable Getty Images customers to access the extensive visual library from Corbis Images.”

Later the press release states:

“VCG and Getty Images will immediately begin work to migrate Corbis content, with migration to be completed as quickly as possible to ensure a seamless transition for customers, contributors and other partners.”

The “Spotlight on” section of the front page lists several links:

Announcement of VCG acquisition and Getty Images exclusive deal on front page of Corbis website.

Consider the optics of the above. Corbis is calling Getty “…the world leader…” Corbis is no longer competing with Getty, this sentence alone makes that clear. So why do this? Simple. Anti-trust.

Several years ago, Getty investigated the viability of buying Corbis directly, according to sources familiar with the due-diligence efforts at the time. However, both U.S. and U.K. anti-trust laws prevented it at a time when Getty was trying to acquire both Corbis and Rex Features.  This joint announcement of the sale of Corbis to a Chinese company, and, simultaneously, the announcement of the exclusive distribution partnership is clearly an effort to skirt anti-trust laws.

November 3rd, 2015 Getty announced they struck a deal with creditors, which, as Bloomberg aptly notes has “…been struggling for cash amid a price war with newer rivals, is getting a lifeline from investors known for profiting from distress.” (Distressed-Debt Lenders Aid Getty Images in Battle Against Shutterstock, 11/4/15).

The fact that there are 84 days between these announcements should belie the real situation. The certainty of the deals announced on January 22, 2016 was almost certainly the reason that Getty received the additional round of funding. As Getty Chairman Jonathan Klein tweeted (and then deleted):

Getty co-founder Jonathan Klein boasted about the acquisition of the exclusive rights deal on his twitter account. Let's dissect his tweet. “Almost 21 years, but got it.” – He's referring to his long-term plan to acquire Corbis Images. “buying the cow” refers, of course, to a purchase of Corbis outright. He's happy he didn't have to buy it. Now comes the really offensive part: “the milk, the cream, cheese, yoghurt and the meat” – what exactly is he referring to? That's right, the intellectual property rights to the material produced by Corbis photographers. Getty now has the exclusive worldwide distribution deal for all of Corbis' content. For anyone owning or being a distribution partner of Corbis, what does this mean?

Here's how it worked previously for an individual photographer:

$100 image gross image licensing fee

$50 goes to Corbis
$50 goes to photographer

Here's how it will work now for an individual photographer:

$100 image gross image licensing fee

$50 goes to Getty
$50 goes to Unity Glory/Corbis
$25 Unit Glory/Corbis keeps
$25 goes to photographer

So if you're an individual photographer represented by Corbis, EVERY image licensing fee you will get will now be half of what it was. (this assumes the standard 50/50 deal, some places are 60/40).

It gets worse if you're part of a distribution deal that Corbis has with other agencies. For example, here are four of the many agencies affected by this deal:

A few of the many Corbis partner agencies

How will they be affected:

Here's how it worked previously for a photographer where Corbis handled their agency distribution:

$100 image gross image licensing fee

$50 goes to Corbis 

$50 goes to sub-agent

$25 sub-agent keeps
$25 goes to photographer

Here's how it will work now for an individual photographer:
$100 image gross image licensing fee

$50 goes to Getty
$50 goes to Unity Glory/Corbis
$25 Unity Glory/Corbis keeps
$25 passes to sub-agent
$12.50 sub-agent keeps
$12.50 goes to photographer

So if you're an photographer with agencies that distribute through Corbis, EVERY image licensing fee you will get from your agency will now be half of what it was. (this assumes the standard 50/50 deal, some places are 60/40).

If you're a photographer currently represented by a sub-agent who distributes through Corbis, or even directly with Corbis, assuming all other things being equal, you'll want to cancel your representation by the sub-agent or with Corbis, and transfer all your images to a Getty contract. This seems to be the only way you'll keep your revenue percentages. There's nothing anti-trust that would jeopardize Getty when individual photographers (or even agencies) move to Getty directly and cut Corbis out the the middle. With all content on Getty from Corbis in short order, it's not going to change your sales quantities, just your net bottom line revenue.

What is not clearly known is what investor arrangement Getty has with VCG behind-the-scenes, if any, beyond the revenue share from each license. How has Getty and the Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) structured this deal? And, to what extent is there a financial arrangement that could risk an anti-trust claim between Carlyle and VCG?  Further, this will increase Getty's library substantially, but only at a percentage of the total. With Getty as a subsidiary of Carlyle and VCG a Chinese company that can't really be reached by U.S. anti-trust claims, Carlyle could be in a position where they are left holding the bag on an anti-trust charge, even years after Getty Images is gone (or sold) and no company that might be interested in acquiring Getty Images from Carlyle would be interested in purchasing the liability of an anti-trust lawsuit, which would then make Getty's position with VCG a poison pill for as long as the shadow of anti-trust issues persist. The revenue share between VCG and Getty is not known, but Getty will only be getting a percentage – is that going to be enough for Getty to survive? Likely not, it will just stem the bleed-out of the dying corpse.

One other thing that will come up is how Getty Images ranks search results. When Getty Images assigns a photographer to cover the Tony Awards in New York City, they will also be distributing the images from Agence France Presse. Getty just announced yesterday – Getty Images and AFP renew leading content partnership (1/25/16). An AFP staffer may not care that this deal happened, if they're not getting a revenue share from the licensing of their staff-produced content, but make no mistake about it, if a Getty, and AFP photographer are covering the Tony Awards, Getty wants their content to appear first in search results because they don't have to share the revenue with AFP if an editor selects a Getty image during the first returned results.

As such, if you're a Corbis (or Corbis sub-agent) photographer, your work will likely also appear below the Getty images in the search results. So, if both a Getty and Corbis photographer are at the same event, the images from the Getty photographer will “push down” the Corbis photographer results, and so the Corbis photographer should rightly see the Getty photographer as cutting into their revenue stream.

In addition, any sponsorship deals that Corbis had, are now at risk. For example, the Look3 Festival of the photograph website states “Without the support of our sponsors, contributors, & patrons, LOOK3 would not exist.”  Corbis was one of the major funders for Look3, and that deal could now be in jeopardy.

All around, this is a really really bad deal for photographers, and a good deal for Unity Glory and Corbis. And, to top it off, the vast majority of the Corbis employees (especially in the U.S.) have been laid off and only a few remain to clean up the mess that's left.

(Comments, if any, after the Jump)


Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

Sports Illustrated Layoffs – Smith, 2 others, OUT

News out of New York is not good today. While the Time, Inc (NYSE: TIME) photo editors are scrambling with today's extended deadline for photographic contributors to sign, this morning SI Director of Photography Brad Smith (LinkedIn: Brad Smith), along with Photo Editor Claire Bourgeois (LinkedIn: Claire Bourgeois) and John Blackmar (LinkedIn: John Blackmar) are among those that have been laid off, according to sources familiar with personnel changes at this Time Inc property.

 Their actual date of departure is not currently known, but with the Superbowl coming up fast, their departure before that would no doubt adversely affect the quality of coverage by Sports Illustrated.

 In related news, Time, Inc apparently only has about half of their photographic contributors having signed the egregious contract, even with their “clarification” document. Because of these low figures, which do not include many big names who are still refusing to sign, a revised contract is expected in the coming week.

 One of the tactics employed by Time Inc photo editors has been to identify non-signing principal photographers, and then contacting similarly styled photographers in that same geographic region who may have had a sporadic assignment schedule for Time Inc, and offering them the assignments of that geographic regions' principal photographer, if they sign while the principal photographer is not.

(Comments, if any, after the Jump)


Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.
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