Tuesday, January 8, 2008

UPDATED: Karma's a (rhymes with witch)

UPDATE: As of noon today, it was down another 4% or so, to a new low midday of $24.17. Hopefully those referenced below as getting out without losing their shirts got out whist still in their pajamas this morning.

What a difference a day makes! When I'd written just yesterday (Getty Images (GYI) Hits 52-Week Low (again)) "When will the next 52 week low hit? Could be tomorrow..." that was hyperbole more than anything else - not that it doesn't actually belong below 20 (because it does) - but I didn't actually think it would be the next day!

That said, I did write in a responsive comment "What goes around comes around, and it's coming around at a high speed", and so, here it is, comin' around.

Thusly, Getty Images (NYSE: GYI) tanks almost 4% in a single day. Heck, that's about double the DOW and the S&P 500 losses for the day, so not all the blame goes to the market, Getty would have still lost enough, even if GYI doesn't/hadn't trended with the market, to have hit another 52-week low all by it's lonesome.

(Continued after the Jump)

Why is this? Well, Getty has been surprisingly quiet since their earnings call back in November. Oh, except where, as Daryl Lang over at PDN reports, in "Getty Offers 15% Off Everything All Year" Getty still hasn't found the bottom price point for their images yet. Further, Lang did some stellar research to determine that, in fact, while Getty was proposing that that discount was just for political campaigns, Daryl actually demonstrates that it works for all imagery from Getty, probably that $49 web price too! As was reported here (The 'Virus' is Spreading, Aug 30, 2007) "...Bruce Livingstone... has succeeded in bumping Getty's web guru as SVP of Technology Linda Ranz just weeks before the new site launch so that he is now SVP of Technology...", which followed that same day with "Oh, wait, this is our fault...." about the crash of the iStockphoto site, the preceeding six days on August 24th with : "Getty Site - Site Down as Stock Is Down?" I guess that's what you get when you have a self-described "true example of success born from failure", as we cited him quoted in Design Mentor Training, where they report that Bruce Livingstone, SVP of Technology started iStockphoto "...After deciding he was not going to make it in the traditional stock photography business." Wait, in order for you, as a self-described "failure" as a photographer, to evidence the resulting "success born from" in iStockphoto, you have to actually demonstrate that success over time, and the bankers just aren't seeing it that way. Is this what you get when a "failure" is the SVP of Technology, overseeing the proper programming of the site? Is this just one more in a string of his failures?

Could it be that Getty's stock price drops the day that istockphoto's prices were to increase, as Paul Melcher reported (back in December - It's Rising, December 7, 2007) they would?

How about, then, the heavy-handed tactics of Getty vis-a-vis their iStockphoto contributors with their do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do approach to stock photography? PDNPulse also reported last week "No More NASA At iStockphoto", which begs the question - why? I didn't check the flight manifest, but I don't think that NASA had a Getty Images photographer on the October 28th flight, as shown here, where the image is being licensed by Getty, but is listed "Copyright: 2007 NASA", and the credit reads "Photo by NASA via Getty Images".

What gives Getty the right to license this image to the general public, when it's owned by the general public? They'll tell you they keyworded it, and otherwise enhanced the images, and that they've registered the images. What they've most likely done, as Corbis has done, is register the image as part of "compilation", a category that the Copyright Office allows you to do, and that the registration is an update to their collection of images that has previously been registered. The title of the work they're registering that will include that image will likely be something like "Getty Digital Online October 2007 & Automated Database", and will then be listed on the Copyright Form VA as something like "Updates from October 1-October 31, 2007 (Updated Monthly)" or something whereby they are able to skirt the Copyright Office's assertions that a registration of this sort is "deminimus", and thus not elligible for Copyright protection. This is a common ploy that is not unique to Getty, but places a "fragile" sticker on registrations done in this manner. A query for "NASA" in the "photographer" field at Getty lists over 1,700 images under the "Getty Images News" brand alone.

Thus, Getty is telling iStockphoto contributors they can't put up images that are in the public domain and earn $0.20 or so off of it, like one iStockphoto contributor has done here of this image:

Because, dear reader, Getty wants to preserve their ability to license to you the same image on the Getty site:

As noted below, they'd lose what could be several thousands of dollars for one ad license, see below:

Why is it that what's good for the goose isn't good for the gander? Why does Getty get to make thousands off of public domain LICENSES to images yet their iStockphoto contributors can't do the same?

But this isn't limited to NASA alone. Searches for U.S. Navy yields over 2,900 results, over 300 for Air Force, and over 400 for Army when the search is done using the "photographer" or "By:" field search. I guess it's just easier to search the acronym NASA in both Getty and iStock archives, as the first tier of clearing iStockphoto of images that are hurting the Getty sales where duplicative, but I would be concerned about the legality of Getty licensing public domain images. What will happen when someone who licenses the images from Getty then refuses to pay?

Don't worry, there's still time to get out with your shirt. There was a nominal spike in after-hours trading, so you could still get out, because I can't see an end in sight to their plummet, can you?


Note: I do not now, nor have I, nor do I plan to have any stock market investments in GYI.

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.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Does anyone hear a sucking sound?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Photostation said...

I think Getty CEO Jonathan Klein's comments [ "If [the lower price offerings] cannibalize some business, so be it,"] epitomize the irresponsible arrogance of a poorly run business. Basically, he's saying "drop dead" to his content producers, which in turn devalues his company's content, hence the current fire sale. The stock plummets. Layoffs are looming and never truer were the words: "absolute power corrupts... absolutely". In a single stroke, the world's fastest growing (Getty is only 13 years old) and most profitable photo agency is self-distructing. Let this be a lesson to all of the smug know-it-alls over at Getty.... another old saying: "Be nice to wo ou see on the way going up... because you'll see the same people on the way down" This old elephant remembers the cocky people running Getty's New York office

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