New in 2017, we will be highlighting various DMLA members to give insight into their businesses with Member Profiles. First up in the series is Valerie Saunders, President of Tetra Images. We recently sat down with her for a look at this RF collection with a conceptual concept focus. You can read the entire interview here.
Riley Cardoza, DMLA Social Media Assistant, sat down recently with Valerie Saunders, President of Tetra Images to gain some insight into this DMLA member.
- Can you describe your experience in the industry?
I started out on the editorial side right after I graduated from college as a photo researcher and then photo editor for magazines at Conde Nast and Gruner & Jahr, among others. I worked with some of the top fashion and beauty photographers of the 1990s and had my first taste of conceptualizing imagery to go alongside headlines and stories. I was surrounded by interesting creative and later became curious about the commercial side of the business. I interviewed at advertising agencies and stock photo agencies and was offered a creative director position at Comstock (a brand that was eventually bought by Getty Images). I was there for six years and tasked with developing their royalty free offering from scratch. I absolutely loved strategizing the content map for that product and working with photographers to produce it all. I learned a great deal about the demand for stock and the very different approach required as compared with my editorial roots. With the advent of the internet and digital photography, the business transformed quickly and I made a decision to leave Comstock and to begin producing content with photographers to market through multiple channels such as Corbis and Getty. Eventually, this evolved into a partnership to launch Tetra Images in 2004.
- What is Tetra Images?
Tetra Images is royalty-free imagery produced by leading professional photographers based all around the world. It is art directed and edited by top industry professionals, ruthlessly curated, and distributed through every major global licensing channel. We produce conceptual content across all subject categories and have been a top-selling brand for almost 12 years.
- Where do you see Tetra in the next few years?
We are making a big push to bring on photographers who are in more remote locations and who cover different niches. We want content that resounds with every possible territory and to keep energizing the collection with fresh perspectives. The speed of technology is creating a bunch of new opportunities and new audiences for our work. A huge part of my team’s strategy is to cultivate our current and prospective relationships so that we are always putting our pictures at the forefront of these new opportunities.
As the massive volume of imagery continues to crowd the search process, I also see our commitment to curation being a very important part of our service to our licensing clients. As an industry, we need to find ways to make that search process more efficient. No one wants to wade through pages and pages to find something (or nothing). They should be inspired and
excited with every click.
- How have your anthropology and economic degrees influenced your work?
Anthropology is the study of culture. In royalty free creative content, especially, you need to speak to a broad audience. A photograph needs to be exceptional enough to get your attention and it needs to be a fast “read” so that the viewer understands the message or the emotion immediately. Certainly a lot of the lifestyle material that we create and represent is at its best when it reflects modern culture in an authentic way. It helps enormously to be interested in what the human experience is, what is trending and how our daily lives are changing all the time. That informs our creative direction so that the imagery is relevant and relatable.
As far as economics, what I love about this business is that you get direct feedback from your buyers as to whether what you are doing is working. If you’re creating the right content, you’re making money. If you’re not delivering the right solutions, you’re out of business. It’s
- What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
Don’t get too caught up in your intuition and hunches. It’s all about the data. Never take your eye off the sales and what clients are responding to. There are a lot of collections out there right now that are busy picking pictures based on their editors’ taste and what they personally like. I have seen this type of “curation” many times over the years and it does not work long-term. A disciplined strategy based on real data and numbers is a far superior predictor of success. This is where the economics kicks in.
- How long have you been a DMLA member?
Tetra has been a member of DMLA since our very beginnings in 2006. PACA and DMLA have given me an amazing resource for connecting with other businesses like ours to share information and support each other as the industry continues to grow and transform. The conferences in particular bring the content creators and distributors in one place from around the world and serve up an energized space for exploring opportunities. I have signed many contracts at these events over the years and met some of my very favorite people through DMLA. I consider it an absolutely essential piece for any media licensing business. Onward we go.
On January 25, 2017 Nancy Wolff, along with representatives from Getty Images, the Copyright Alliance, MPAA, Comcast, BMI Music and others representing creators and owners of content, testified at a hearing against bill HR65 before the Maryland State Senate Finance Committee.
The Bill was trying to regulate copyright demand letters by preventing copyright owners from “making certain assertions of copyright infringement in bad faith”. It also stipulated that a court might consider, among other factors, the absence of a certificate of copyright registration accompanying the letter s evidence of bad faith. Read the entire story here.
by Nancy Wolff, DMLA Legal Counsel
Sending copyright demand letters to users of images where no license is apparent has been a common practice of many DMLA members, even before images were distributed digitally. These demand letter s have been part of the copyright boot camp and form letters available to members to contact users and educate them about copyright misuse and to seek compensation if the images are not licensed.
On January 11, Maryland State Senator Edward Reilly (R) introduced a bill, HR 65 before the state legislature to regulate copyright demand letters. The bill is aimed at preventing copyright owners from “making certain assertions of copyright infringement in bad faith” and stipulates that a court may consider, among other factors, the absence of a certificate of copyright registration accompanying the letter as evidence of bad faith. The proposed remedies include the possibility of courts costs, attorney’s fees, and treble damages, including fees up to $50,000. On January 25, 2017 the Maryland State Senate Finance Committee held hearing on the bill. DMLA; Getty Images, the Copyright Alliance, MPAA, Comcast, BMI Music and other s representing creators and owners of content testified at the hearing as to the problems and burdens imposed by such a bill and provided written opposition. A copy of DMLA’s letter to the finance committee opposing the bill is [here]. The associations representing all the visual artists unanimously joined in the opposition as it would subject all copyright owner to unfair burdens in seeking compensation for infringements and violate federal copyright law. Joining our letter were the Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), American Photographic Artists (APA), the Graphic Artist Guild (GAG) and Shaftel & Schmelzer.
Last week we learned that the Maryland Senate Finance Committee was not going to vote on the bill and as to not embarrass the member of the Finance Committee who had introduced the bill. Thanks to the Copyright Alliance for alerting us to so promptly so we could respond so quickly and for Getty Images for attending and speaking directly with Senator Reilly before the hearing. The entire content community mobilized to avoid a very problematic state bill. We will need to stay alert for other state legislatures who may feel the need to protect their citizens if complaints arise over copyright enforcement. Copyright is very different from patents and there is a push to stem what is known as patent trolling. We need to avoid being swept into the same category of bad actors. . The underlying cause in this bill seemed to be a lack of understanding as how images are licensed and the value of a rights managed image.
DMLA together with various other visual arts associations (what we are loosely referring to a Coalition of Visual Artists –DMLA, APA, ASMP, GAG, NPPA, NANPA, and PPA) filed a joint response to a proposed rulemaking by the Copyright Office on Group Registration of Photographs.
The proposal seeks to establish new online registration procedures for groups of unpublished as well as published photographs. The proposal was quite in-depth, including an extensive history of group registration of photographs regulations and the requirements for a new proposed system. In general the coalition was in favor of improving the electronic registration process for registration of all photographs, but had some recommendations for the Copyright Office on as to how to improve the proposed system.
Universally, everyone agreed that the arbitrary limitation of 750 images per registration would be burdensome to visual artists and would discourage registration. This limit would be unworkable for many photographers who register all the works in an assignment in one application, and is much lower than the number of images submitted by many members of DMLA when submitting database registration of images uploaded to websites. In addition, the Copyright Office proposal specifically would discourage this database registration in favor of the group registration of unpublished and published photographs regimes. Database registrations were specifically crafted by the Copyright Office at the request of DMLA to assist DMLA members register photographs on behalf of contributors before ingesting them into their database for licensing on the web based platforms. The DMLA’s legal committee, and in particular Dan Pollack, Masterfile’s attorney assisted in responding to that aspect of the proposed rulemaking and expressed DMLA’s concern as this registration has been a key factor in many successful enforcement programs to deter infringements and encourage licensing.
The Coalition also urged that the provision to permit group registration of unpublished photographs and published photographs be expanded to include all forms of visual art, regardless of format, whether photographs, illustration or otherwise.
Other recommendations related to improving the application process to be compatible with typical visual artists’ workflows and promoting the use of APIs that may be developed to allow the seamless registration of photographs and visual artworks, and that both published and unpublished photographs can be registered at the same time.
The joint response was a result of corporation of all the associations and was quite extensive. A copy of the full response can be found here (you’ll have to scroll down to Amicus Briefs and Notices of Inquiries). This is a great example of the joint efforts of the various visual art association coming together with one voice. The Copyright Alliance also adopted the position set out in the coalition of visual artists’ response to the proposed rulemaking as well.
On January 30, 2017 DMLA Digital Media Licensing Association) joined with the other members of a Coalition of Visual Artists (APA, ASMP, GAG, NPPA, NANPA, and PPA) in a joint response to the House Judiciary Committee with comments to the first proposal by Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers “Reform of the U.S. Copyright Office.”
After months of hard work to reach consensus and a united voice, our comments, entitled “Creating a USCO Capable of Succeeding in A Changing World”, begins “Collectively, all members of the signatory associations depend on effective copyright protection and enforcement for their livelihood.”
Read all about it here with a link to the full comments.
On January 30, 2017 DMLA joined with the other members of a Coalition of Visual Artists (APA, ASMP, GAG, NPPA, NANPA, and PPA) in a joint response to the House Judiciary Committee with comments to the first proposal by Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers “Reform of the U.S. Copyright Office.”
After months of hard work to reach consensus and a united voice, our comments, entitled “Creating a USCO Capable of Succeeding in A Changing World”, begins “Collectively, all members of the signatory associations depend on effective copyright protection and enforcement for their livelihood.” To ensure that happening we continue “We join with the Judiciary Committee’s call for greater autonomy for the Copyright Office. Regardless of whether the Office remains an independent agency housed in the Library of Congress, or an independent agency under the Legislative Branch with no connection to the Library of Congress, history has demonstrated that it is essential that it have autonomy over the its budget and its technology needs as well as its operational procedures (staffing, fees, structure, etc.).
The comments of the coalition also address the issue of the Register of Copyrights:
“We further support the selection of the Register of Copyrights as a Presidential appointee. If the judiciary committee decides to pursue this approach, we urge the Congress to move with great alacrity in passing the necessary legislation and respectfully urge the Librarian to refrain from appointing a new Register and instead await such legislative action. We fear that otherwise, many qualified candidates may not be willing to take the position of Register under existing procedures, uncertain whether that their appointment may be just months long.”
The Small Claims System Hosted by the United States Copyright Office” is also addressed “For the members of the visual arts community the overriding purpose of a copyright small claims proposal is narrow and straightforward: to end a longstanding inequity in our copyright system and finally provide photographers, illustrators, graphic artists, other visual artists and their licensing representatives with a fair, cost-effective and streamlined venue in which they can seek relief for relatively modest copyright infringement claims.
Under current law, too many legitimate copyright claimants are unable to pursue a copyright infringement action in federal court. This is due primarily to the prohibitive cost of retaining counsel and maintaining the litigation for some of these high volume, relatively low value claims brought by visual artists—a situation exacerbated by the fact that “they are often opposed by large corporations with limitless resources and the resolve to complicate and protract a case in hopes that the plaintiff runs out of patience, money or both.”
A full copy of the Coalition of Visual Artists comments can be found here. (You will need to scroll down to Amicus Briefs and Notices of Inquiries)
DMLA has been actively participating in a study initiated by the Copyright Office on the impact and effectiveness of the Digital Millennial Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor provisions contained in Section 512 of the Copyright Act. The safe harbor offers qualified Internet Service Providers (ISPs) immunity from monetary damages for hosting infringing content if the ISP expeditiously removes the content after receiving a proper notice. DMLA has provided responses to past Notices of Inquiries and attended round table hearings on this subject. The Copyright Office is now seeking additional comments and is specifically inviting parties to submit empirical research.
As this is such an important issue, DMLA plans to respond and has adapted for DMLA members and their contributors an online survey prepared by the Copyright Alliance for small creators to determine if this “notice and take down” procedure of the safe harbor is being used, how difficult it is to use, and how successful it is in having infringing content removed. The survey is short and should not take long to complete. We encourage all members to participate and send it to their contributors to build a large response pool. If copyright law is to improve, we need to have hard data on what is working and what is not.
If you haven’t filled out your responses yet, please do so. The more responses we receive the better data we will be able to supply to the Copyright office. You will find the survey here.
Deadline for completion is February 17, 2017.
It’s hard to believe that the first month of 2017 is almost over. Reflecting on the past year we’d like to thank you for your support of our trade association. Working on your behalf, we strive to deliver the best legal advocacy, educational information and networking opportunities in the digital media industry. Read the entire message here
Dear DMLA Members:
It’s hard to believe that the first month of 2017 is almost over. Reflecting on the past year we’d like to thank you for your support of our trade association. Working on your behalf, we strive to deliver the best legal advocacy, educational information and networking opportunities in the digital media industry.
In addition to the name change from PACA to DMLA to better reflect the constituents of the association, we are proud of the many accomplishments that DMLA has achieved over the last few years. Some of the significant 2016 accomplishments are highlighted below.
With a new board taking over in May 2016, we have set new objectives for the next two years to further evolve our organization, broaden our membership base and cement DMLA’s relevance to the digital media licensing industry. We look forward to sharing news on our initiatives in the coming months as we build up to our 22nd Annual DMLA Conference October 22-24 back in Manhattan again at the historic New Yorker Hotel.
We truly appreciate your support and hope you recognize, as we do, the valuable role your membership plays in allowing us to continue our efforts on behalf of the industry.
We are asking you to show your continued commitment to DMLA by renewing your membership for 2017. Invoices were mailed out in December and many of you have already made your payments, which is very much appreciated. We have made it easy to pay your dues; our Monthly payment plan has been a popular option for many members and is available again this year. Dues are payable by January 31, 2017, so please make arrangements to get them paid by then.
Finally, from the DMLA Board and all our Committee members, we wish you all the best for 2017!
Geoff Cannon DMLA President
DMLA 2016 ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- Welcomed 10 new members into the Association
- Total relaunch of PACAsearch as DMLAsearch including a new website that includes photos from contributing agencies on homepage DMLAsearch.com
- Consistent communication with members this year through the use of our blog, twitter and Facebook page
- Our 21st Annual Conference: Another outstanding conference was held in Jersey City in October. The sessions were reviewed as some of the best ever covering subjects from Doing Business in China to Advances in Visual Recognition. You can read reviews of all the sessions here, In a post-conference survey we received Very Good or Excellent marks from over 83% of our attendees.
- Participation in Visual Connections in Chicago and New York to connect with buyers
- Webinar series continued in 2016 with “Sensitive Issues Web. You can find the audio recording here
- Worked with DMLA member Adobe to produce and record legal videos explaining the basics of releases, fair use, issues involving outside art, graffiti and social media use of images. You will find them on our website Note – It’s a members-only section of the site so you will need your username and password to gain access.
- Maintained our presence in Washington, DC to advocate for DMLA
- Meetings with the Copyright Office on the 108 exception, dealing with libraries and archives in July and then again in September with ASMP on suggestions for improving the current proposed Copyright Small Claims bill
- Attended the U.S. Copyright Office’s public roundtable in New York, New York on May 2-3, 2016 in connection with the Office’s study on section 512 (involving immunity for ISP’s).
- Attended and spoke on a panel on a day-long symposium sponsored by the US Copyright Office and the Center for Intellectual Property at George Mason Law School entitled AUTHORS, ATTRIBUTION, and INTEGRITY: Examining Moral Rights in the United States on April 18, 2016.
- Submitted an amicus brief to the Second Circuit on behalf of the DMLA supporting Fox Network before the Second Circuit in New York in the appeal of the decision in Fox Network, LLC v. TVEyes, Inc., explaining that there is a robust licensing market for images and clips and that expanding fair use for an unauthorized distributor of video clips in this case could have a significant impact on the content licensing industry
- Submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the DMLA supporting T3 Media before the Ninth Circuit in California in the appeal of the decision in Maloney v T3 Media, Inc. supporting T3 Media and the decision that held the act of offering editorial content for licensing or sale does not violate the subject’s right of publicity under state law and that the Copyright Act preempts state law where it interferes with the copyright holder’s right to exercise her exclusive rights. We explained the importance of this decision to the content licensing industry as a whole and the ability of the press and others to have access to licensable content.
- Weekly phone meetings with the other visual arts associations on copyright small claims and other issues to help get important issues moved along by working as a cohesive group
- Wrote Blogs on cases involving take down notices under the DMCA, removal of copyright management information and copyright damages
- Worked successfully on Right of Publicity Act in Minnesota.