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Agencies launch bid to charge for iPad pic usage

iPad pictures should be treated 'independently' to print and online versions.

A leading group of US-based photo agencies has launched a bid to introduce new charges for the use of their work on iPad-style computers.

The agencies, which include British-owned outfits such as Splash News, have formed the Editorial Photo Agency Guild.

They have sent a letter out to all publishers in the UK, USA and elsewhere in the world which use their content.

The letter states that as the popularity of iPad apps, and tablet computer equivalents, grows - licensing of images for these platforms "should be treated independently from what you already pay for with respect to the print and .com versions".

The letter states: "Photo agencies are hoping for the success of this new technology as much as anyone.

"The iPad and similar platforms can both bring in new readers and enhance the experience of existing readers. More happy readers mean more revenue and more success for the entire industry (including us)."

The agencies are proposing that iPad app usage should add a minimum of $50 to the price of "Red Carpet" style photos and at least $100 to the price of "candid non-exclusive" photos. It is proposed that these fees will increase to 100 per cent of the print cost over the course of a year.

Prices for exclusive photos are to be negotiated each time, the letter proposes.

The agencies propose that images used independently of the print edition on iPad apps be charged at 50 per cent of the print rate, increasing to the same amount after a period of six months - depending on the success of the iPad edition.

Explaining the thinking behind the move, one of the agency bosses behind it told Press Gazette: "We all strongly believe that this platform as a walled garden could be the saviour of declining legacy print publications.

"A lot of the publishers think so too. Whereas it is a small platform now we see this as a way to work with the publishers to work on a business model that works for both parties.

"Print prices have gone down, web pricing has plummeted, mobile never took off and now content providers are faced with publishers claiming the eReader platform is merely an extension of the magazine, yet they are charging for the App and using the figures to increases print ad rates.

"Quite simply if we cannot secure fair pricing for new digital models as print declines how many agencies will be around in five years to provide the content that publishers need.

"This is not a battle but a need for co-operation to ensure the future of publisher and content provider."

The agencies which have formed the Editorial Photo Agency Guild are: Abaca, Admedia, Bauer-Griffin, BEImages, Big Pictures, BuzzFoto, Celebrity Photo Agency, Elevation, Fame Pictures, INF, PacificCoastNews, PictureGroup, PhotoLink, RameyPix, RexUSA, Sipa Press, Splash, Star Max, Startraks and WENN.

This piece appeared originally in Press Gazette.

Dominic Ponsford is editor of Press Gazette