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paulr
19-Mar-2008, 08:37
I've been approached by a stock agency that specializes in art photographers. After a lot of phone calls they've finally sent me a contract. I have no experience with licensing in general, or stock agencies in particular, and so I'm going to need some expert advice before signing anything.

I already have a few questions about the terms. And I assume there are some questions I should be asking that I haven't considered.

Does anyone know of a source for reasonably priced legal assistance on this kind of thing? I'm pretty sure that the normal fees of a corporate contract lawyer would bleed me dry.

I'm already looking at some big scanning expenses (they've chosen some older work that's never been scanned for anything but the web, and they of course want very high quality scans). And I have no idea if I'll even make a dime from this venture!

Ralph Barker
19-Mar-2008, 09:02
There is at least one stock photographer's association that might provide some help prior to talking to an attorney. Sorry I don't have a name or link, Paul, but a Google search should turn it up.

Ted Harris
19-Mar-2008, 10:21
Like Ralph, I don't have any more direct information but if you call Jazz at Jaincotech in Ohio he can tell you. I know they are participating in a huge stock photo conference/tradeshow in June.

Ben Chase
19-Mar-2008, 10:35
I know that photoattorney (http://www.photoattorney.com) has been recommended by others. I've never worked with them, but this might be a direction you could take.

QT Luong
19-Mar-2008, 10:54
The association Ralph has mentioned is probably the Stock Artists Alliance. I have not joined them personally, but I read that a short consultation with an attorney is included in the price of the membership, and they have a discussion forum as well.

If you want my opinion, I think you will not break up even, if you need to hire an attorney to review the contract, and get expensive scans done.

Darren Kruger
19-Mar-2008, 11:21
[QUOTE=paulr;330779Does anyone know of a source for reasonably priced legal assistance on this kind of thing? [/QUOTE]

Try Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (http://www.vlany.org/). I have not experience with them but have been told that they are a place to start.

-Darren

paulr
19-Mar-2008, 12:14
If you want my opinion, I think you will not break up even, if you need to hire an attorney to review the contract, and get expensive scans done.

This is certainly a fear I have.

I may propose that I send them work the work that I have, and then send the rest as I find ways to scan it cheaply.

Thanks everyone for the tips. I've fired off a few emails and will let you know what I find out.

domenico Foschi
19-Mar-2008, 12:23
I don't see why they should need the big files right away before the images have been chosen by a client.
I work with 3 Art consultants and so far they have always asked for regular digital files and if an image gets sold, then I proceed to have it scanned well, if I don't have it already.
In the past I have worked with a company that was taking care of the scans as well.
To me it sounds like this could be a potential loss since the start.
It is nice to have a complete inventory professionally scanned, but as you say it's very expensive.

paulr
19-Mar-2008, 12:32
That's a great point, Domenico.

I'll ask them about that.

QT Luong
19-Mar-2008, 12:34
I don't see why they should need the big files right away before the images have been chosen by a client.


People who use stock photography are often working on tight deadlines and need immediate, or nearly immediate access to images. When you are in a deadline, there is nothing worse than investing your time in choosing an image, only to be told that it will take half a week to deliver. This is specially true in advertising markets, which are the most lucrative.

In my experience, many clients take a while to make a decision, but once they have made it, they need the files yesterday (possibly because they took a while to make the decision in the first place).

No serious stock agency will represent you if you don't provide them with ready-to-license files.

Art consultants are a very specialized breed of stock photography buyers, and the way they work is not typical of the industry as a whole.

domenico Foschi
19-Mar-2008, 13:25
I agree QT.
It really comes at what Paul's budget is and if the Agency is trustworthy.
As a rule, I always see contracts as an agreement, which can be changed in some of its parts by both parties.
If Paul sees the terms of the Agency being too demanding on his budget, I see nothing wrong in proposing a scan by the order deal.
The worst that can happen is a negative answer, then he would have to make the decision of accepting their terms or not.

claudiocambon
19-Mar-2008, 19:50
Improbable as this may seem, I agree with what everyone is saying.

I joined Ibid in Chicago 2.5 years ago, spent over $1,000 getting a bunch of nice scans made (at reasonable prices,too), and last year they went out of business without selling a single thing of mine in that whole time. Granted I probably did not have enough critical mass, but.... nothing??? I certainly stand behind the images, and think they're still saleable, but I have my doubts as to how visible once can ever be, given how huge the stock market is, unless one is with Getty, Jupiter or Corbis. Yes, there are niche markets, but I would say be very conservative in terms of what you think you will make. It's a risk worth taking, but it isn't the fast money it was even a few years ago.

The easiest thing is, if you shoot any digital, try to get them to put up a bunch of that, and see how it does, and then proceed from there.

I would also be candid about your hesitations with them.

Good luck!!

DavidFisk
20-Mar-2008, 13:27
When the dust settles and you have time for contemplation, a useful reference is The Law in Plain English for Photographers by Leonard DuBoff. It's a good starting point at least.

claudiocambon
20-Mar-2008, 21:51
Another two things:

1. See if the agency has some sort of discount deal worked out with a scanning facility. Many of them do, and this could shave off 10-30%. Of course even going it on your own, most places should cut you some sort of deal if you walk in with more than 10 or 15 scans,

2. In addition to what Domencio said about on-demand scanning, see whether they wouldn't help shoulder the risk for some of the initial scans in exchange for some sort of extra compensation on their part, just to help you ease into it. The risk is almost all on you at first, and it helps to distribute it, if you can.

Again, good luck!

Robert Skeoch
21-Mar-2008, 16:44
This is what I've learned... and my work is with Getty Images. If it's not already digital it will be hard to recover scanning costs, and if you do the scans yourself you will be spending many hours working with little chance to recover a reasonable rate.

I only send in images that were shot digital, or at least were already scanned. The stock market isn't what it used to be as clients switch to annual subscriptions instead of single purchase rates.

I'm not saying this will be the case with you and your agency... but it has been my experience.

-Rob

mdd99
27-Mar-2008, 18:22
I'm already looking at some big scanning expenses (they've chosen some older work that's never been scanned for anything but the web, and they of course want very high quality scans). And I have no idea if I'll even make a dime from this venture!

Seems to me if they're so confident your work will sell, they ought to be willing to pay for the scans--or at least split the fees.

Once
28-Mar-2008, 03:16
This one is not difficult to see through... The agency is trying to take an advantage of you - getting high quality scans done at your expense. It would be foolish, in my opinion, to try to get an attorney - just more expensive. They should be happy with a basic scan and once they know the client wants it, they can ask for your HQ scan. If they need the HQ scans right away, they should (but nobody can force them if you agree to the opposite!) either share the scanning expense or make the scans by themselves.
I'm a member of a big stock agency and all I send are just slides - all scanning is done by them with no expense for me. Another agency I'm in just wants everything digital - I didn't accept and have there just many thousand slides which still sell occasionally, but scanned by them.
You're right thinking that for the scan expenses you have no guarantee of sales.