A revolution has started, are you ready?

Media buyers and sellers have a brief window of opportunity to work out how to license content for new media devices. The first magazines are showing their tablet publications and it’s not yet clear what the licensing model for the many layers of content will look like. There’s a great opportunity to debate and agree a workable solution right now, but there’s not much time.

This is not an article about the Apple iPad , the Apple device is set to be the first of many full colour touch devices to come. While the technology is important, highly anticipated amd only the beginning it’s the application of the technology that will  matter for those on both sides of the media licensing arena.

Chris Anderson , editor in Chief of Wired magazine  and author of best sellers ‘The Long Tail’  and ‘Free’  says: “this is what we’ve been waiting for for 15 years”. Wired magazine is to launch a The tablet version of the magazine that can be seen in this video. More exciting aplications are planned by publisher Conde Nast  and others.

 Publisher Conde Nast is planning Apple iPad versions of popular titles including GQ , Vanity Fair  and Wired magazines. “We look at (iTunes ) as a digital newsstand,” said Sarah Chubb, president of CondNet. Meanwhile, Wired Magazine Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson made an announcement at last week’s Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference  saying the publisher would have a digital version for the iPad ready by summer.


For those buying media, whether it’s photography, video, text, music or anything else that can be used on new media devices this is an important time. Choices need to be made sooner rather than later. It is necessary now to figure out how to acquire and license the growing quantity of content that will be needed to satisfy readers that consume media on digital devices.

Clearly the demand for media will grow significantly. The devices allow magazine-style formats to contain infinitely more imagery, video, animation etc. On any subject readers will be able to dig further into the content and find more and more related visuals. In principle there’s no limit to this, especially when the device is online and can scan the web for related information.

This is not just applicable for editorial either. Advertising can now contain layers of imagery and other related Media. How much more content will appear in these ‘new-style’ magazines? Only time will tell. Let’s just say for now it’s more….a lot more.

On the seller’s ‘side’ Stock Photography commentator Paul Melcher  has started the debate. On his blog  he says:

Sure, you can go the Getty way;  here, pay me $49 and do whatever you want with the image. I would like to see Getty’s executives faces when one of their $49 image goes viral. Ouch, ..not a good idea. Images should be license based on usage and usage should be tracked per number of clicks. After all, if an article or an image published on Tablet gets shared a lot, it is all in the benefit of the publication, right? Thus, it’s free marketing. Yet, your image has been instrumental to that sharing action, so shouldn’t you be compensated?

What do you mean you do not know how much clicks it has seen? Do you know how much circulation a magazine has? Yes, ok, well, with a link, it is even easier to track. They want a sharing option on your images, charge them either an additional flat fee, or a fee per clicks. But please, charge something. You are not Getty. You will not get back in volume what you just gave away for free. No.

So. first thing first: Add to all your invoices  and delivery statement “NO DIGITAL RIGHTS” . If they want web usage or other, then lets negotiate a different fee. Ask if there will be a sharing option . If yes, then add an additional fee. How much? well, that is up to you to decide.

Before creators and distributors of media content shut the door, make things overly complicated or are simply too late and caught unaware a dialogue has to be started. On the new devices on-topic content can be explored further than ever while contextual media  and information can be endless. It looks like there are a number of developments clearly visible on the horizon.

First: It will be impossible to license separately for all these uses endlessly. There just isn’t enough time to go through the process. Content needs to be available quickly and without having to jump through hoops.

Second: The amount of media content consumed will increase and with budgets staying the same at best, prices will go down. The opportunity is in volume, not in price. This does not have to mean quality comes down, a balance needs to be struck that allows good content to stay on the surface.

Media licensed for digital uses has moved from an afterthought, or bolt-on to the mainstream. Things are turning on their head quickly and there does not appear to be a clear solution yet. There are a number of options that may be part of the solution:

  • Subscription models like Shutterstock  and Getty Images’ Thinkstock . These models make licensing easy
  • Tracking solutions like Picscout’s Image Exchange or Fotomoto  that allow tracking and licensing of imagery  
  • Other simplified licensing models that allow for speed and ease of use

Whether the solution is buy once, use forever or in other, hybrid models is the big question. One thing is certain and that’s that media buyers are going to need a lot more content and should try and work  with sellers to come up with an easy, relevant, realistic and forward looking model that allows all parties to use the content they need without loosing time.

If licensing models are not debated between buyers and sellers there’s a risk that the speed of consumption of these new media will surpass the solutions. This will lead to unnecessary frustration on both sides and, more importantly, missed opportunities through this revolution that is well under way.

Here’s a quick heads-up about what could happen when these discussions happen too late:

Newspaper and magazine publishers are stumbling over key issues such as sharing subscription revenues as they consider deals to offer digital versions of their products on Apple’s upcoming iPad digital media device. These talks are in early stages and were considered friendly and ongoing, executives familiar with the discussions said. But Apple’s proposals could significantly alter business practices that have protected profits over decades, publishers fear.  Ownership of subscriber in-formation and pricing have emerged as key issues. via FT.com / UK – Publishers warn of hurdles to iPad deal.

At the beginning of a road without signposts but full of opportunity there’s a brief window for all stakeholders to start sharing constructive ideas and come up with models that help make these new applications live up to their potential while allowing creators to keep on producing more great media content.

Picture: Stock Exchange | Open Road | Mateusz-Stachowski

Marco | Editor

Editor at large and founder of a bunch of stockphoto businesses

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