We excited to announce that registration is now open for the 19th Annual PACA Conference! We’re returning to New York City, one of the United States’ most vibrant, artistic, and populous cities. The City That Never Sleeps is the perfect setting for PACA, the Digital Media Licensing Association, in our continued efforts to bring innovation, inspiration, and information to our industry. Mark your calendar for October 19-21, 2014.
We’re making your trip to NY a cost-effective one by having two great events together! We will be teaming up once again with Visual Connections to bring you a 4-day event with the opportunity to network with both industry partners and clients. We’ll kick things off with a PACA Reception the evening of Day 1, the PACA Conference on Days 2 and 3, and Visual Connections on Day 4.
PACA is known for its excellent educational program, and we are already lining up exceptional speakers and panelists for this year’s event. The meeting will take place at the Altman Building, a historic landmark and private event venue in the heart of Chelsea.
Booking opened on June 10 to prospective exhibitors at Visual Connections New York Image Expo 2014, which will take place on Wednesday, October 22nd.
As the largest marketing event devoted to commercial licensing of visual media anywhere in the world, Visual Connections New York is an opportunity to connect with hundreds of buyers of creative and editorial stock photography, illustration, footage, and other media. In an age of online business, this trade show continues to fulfill a need, frequently expressed by both buyers and sellers, for personal contact.
The event draws in buyers by offering a mix of education, discovery, networking, complimentary food and beverages, a fabulous prize drawing, and a great buzz (helped in part by the free beer and wine).
Visual Connections has once more partnered with PACA (the Digital Media Licensing Association) to deliver a combined industry conference and trade fair over four days, from Sunday October 19, at the Altman Building in Chelsea, Manhattan.
Fully-inclusive exhibitor packages start at just $1,300 (before discounts). Early booking is recommended for maximum pre-event marketing exposure and greatest choice of exhibit spaces.
Michael Masterson and I ( Ellen Herbert) were speaking about the history of our industry. Again and again, one name came up as a leader and advocate for all things stock photography. And as a result, I asked Michael to interview Cathy Aron.
Cathy Aron has been the Executive Director of PACA, the Digital Licensing Media Association, since 2006. Prior to that she was a longtime member as well as the president. Her involvement in the image industry goes back to her childhood – literally. Cathy and I talked recently about her background and where she sees PACA and the industry today.
Michael Masterson: You basically grew up in this industry. Tell me about your father and how he, and later you, got involved.
Cathy Aron: Actually, my father, Nat Harrison, was a jeweler, but he was a frustrated photographer and had done photography during the war and after. He even had a dark room built at the back of our house. When he and my mother started traveling around the world, he took photos and would do slide shows at schools. When he needed fill-in and title slide images he used a place called Wolfe Worldwide Films in Santa Monica. They specialized in selling duplicate slides inexpensively to schools and individuals. In 1978, WWF was for sale and my dad decided to buy it for something to do in his retirement (which was a few years off) and he asked if I wanted to run it. I was raising my children at the time, looking at for a part-time something to do. So I traveled to Santa Monica everyday from Mission Viejo (about 60 miles and in California that can be forever!) for a few months learning the photography business before moving it to Mission Viejo. A few months after we took over the business, my dad suddenly passed away at 60 leaving a mortgage on WWF, a jewelry business, and a devastated family. I didn’t want my mom to be burdened with the business loan, so I took over WWF and realized that there was something else that you could do with the originals and I began learning all I could about the stock photo end of the business.
Michael: You had your own agency, Photo Network, for a long time. How did it get started?
Cathy: I found a partner, Gerry McDonald, who knew more than I did about the rights management part of the business and together we formed Photo Network. We built a nice general stock agency. She had a collection of images from a multimedia company called Pix Productions she and her husband had plus I had the travel images from WWF. Then we began representing photographers, selling mainly to ad agencies and developers. My partner died after about fifteen years, but I continued with Photo Network for 27 years.
Michael: You came to PACA at a very turbulent time in its history. How did you become the executive director?
Cathy: I was president of PACA after we fired our executive director in 2002. We realized she had embezzled a lot of money from the association. So, for two years I served as the president without an ED. It was a tough time for the organization but also an amazing time as everyone pitched in to save PACA, both monetarily and with their time and efforts. It did, however, take an incredible amount of time from my business. When it was feasible to hire an executive director again, I had just made the decision to sell Photo Network, so I applied for the job along with many others and was lucky to get it.
Michael: What are some of the things you’re proudest of during your time as ED at PACA?
Cathy: One would certainly be the organization, with Cathy Sachs, then executive director of ASPP, of the associations group. It was originally over the proposed Orphan Works Legislation, but we still continue to meet today. When we brought everyone together back in 2006 (I think that’s right) it was the first time we had gathered all the visual arts associations together in one room to discuss mutual interests. The participation and co-operative outreach of this group has enabled us to gain much more impact that each association would have individually. We have worked together on amicus briefs, statements for the copyright office and lobbying to the congress for legislation favorable to our industry.
I’m also very proud of pacaSearch that is the one benefit of our organization which directly benefits the business of our members. It’s the mega search engine that helps to level the playing field between large and small agencies allowing buyers to find the library that has the best images for theirs needs. It’s free to all PACA members. A recent survey by Visual Steam showed it came in as the fifth most-used site for buyers.
It’s also been wonderful working with Nancy Wolff and getting a much broader understanding of all the copyright issues and knowing that we have the best possible representation with her at the helm. Her expertise and standing in the copyright community gives PACA it’s best chance to make an impact.
Michael: What are some other PACA highlights during your tenure?
Cathy: Our PACA Conferences would be definite highlights. We have had some amazing meetings over the last few years and we’ve provided our members with excellent opportunities to learn and grow their businesses with the information provided at these events. Moving out of a hotel last year and teaming up with Visual Connections has given a new spark to the meeting and we are looking forward to even more exciting innovations this year.
Our efforts in copyright education and outreach to schools and the community have and remain a priority for PACA. Colleges and universities throughout the country as well as many high schools use our Power Point presentation.
Also, our efforts with the publishers to work on contracts that are equitable to both sides was rewarded this year with a contract with Cengage that we feel has great language and terms for agencies.
It’s also been great getting new people involved in the industry. I have always been a firm believer that you get back more than you give.
Michael: What issues is PACA addressing right now and what other major industry issues do you see?
Cathy: We’re still on top of the copyright office’s debate on a Copyright Small Claims. This is a vital discussion for the industry and we’ve responded to the Copyright Office’s three requests for comments on remedies with many of our suggestions included in their report.
We are also a complainant in the ASMP vs. Google Books case. We will be part of an amicus brief for the Authors Guild appeal vs. Google Books. We are working right now on Patent Trolling and engaging the agencies that have been sued by Uniloc. This is a very serious problem for our members and non-members alike and we are actively perusing ways to help them collectively find materials to fight these claims.
I think that piracy and copyright infringement continue to be the biggest issues facing our industry. Upholding copyright is the biggest challenge to all of us.
Michael: The organization has changed like so many other industry trade associations. Talk about the challenges it’s facing and how you and your board are dealing with them.
Cathy: Buy-outs and consolidations have been the biggest challenges to PACA in the last 5-10 years. Our association has definitely felt the impact of the closure of many of the smaller agencies. Newer tech companies don’t always feel the value of an association, but the board is trying to reach out to the newer players and give them benefits that will appeal to them. The issues that face our industry will impact all the people in the industry, no matter what their structure is, so it is important that we work together to protect copyright or there will be no business.
Michael: One last question. As someone who obviously loves photography, if you could choose one photograph to hang in your living room, what would it be?
Cathy: This is an impossible question. As Ron [Cathy’s husband] will tell you, I have a very eclectic taste in art. I love the photographs of Ansel Adams and Arnold Newman, Annie Leibowitz, Art Wolff, etc., etc. But I’m also drawn to the work of new artists. I love beautiful scenics and graphic black and whites. I could never choose just one!
Michael Masterson has a broad range of experience in marketing, business development, strategic planning, contact negotiations and recruiting in the photography, graphic design and publishing industries. In addition to his long experience at the Workbook and Workbookstock, Masterson owned and was creative director of his own graphic design firm for several years. Masterson has been a speaker or panelist at industry events such as Seybold, PhotoPlus Expo, Visual Connections and the Picture Archive Council of America (PACA) national conference. He is past national president of the American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP). He currently heads Masterson Consulting, working on projects ranging from business development for creative companies and sourcing talent for them to promoting and marketing industry events as well as providing resume and professional profile services for job-seekers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the PACA 2013 Conference this October, we held a panel on patent trolls that are targeting this industry, and in particular, the Company Uniloc that alleges to have a patent on licensing images online and had targeted 4 companies in the micro stock space. Patent trolls are companies that purchase patents for the sole purpose of bringing claims against third parties. These cases are almost always brought in the Eastern District if Texas, which is a favorable jurisdiction for plaintiffs. Patent litigation is extremely expensive, and many companies will settle just to avoid costs. Many of these patent trolls acquire business method patents, which unlike inventions, merely describe a system for doing business and can be quite vague and overly broad. In the early days of the internet, many of these patents were issued as examiners did not have access to information regarding prior art in many industries.
On the panel was Tamany Bentz, patent attorney from Venable, who represented Dreamstime, as well as Ellen Boughn, who worked as an expert to provide information to the attorneys as to early online business practices in the industry. With patent cases, you can attempt to invalidate a patent if you can establish prior art. Other defenses include showing how your process is different from the one described in the patent. (Dreamstime in fact settled with the plaintiff but Ellen’s report was apparently used by the other defendants. As noted below, those cases were dismissed with prejudice before any judicial ruling on the patent claim.)
The initial claims were brought against the following companies:
During the panel discussion, it was recommended that PACA help be a source if business information, and that if other claims are brought by Uniloc or others, the industry collaborate together in order to defeat these claims. Since the meeting Uniloc has filed new patent claims in Texas against a numbers of other companies, listed below.
Getty, Corbis, iStockPhoto LP, Age Fotostock America Inc., SS SPV LLC, Envato PTY Ltd., Fotolia LLC., PhotoShelter, Inc., Photo Stock Plus, and VectorStock Media Limited
It may be helpful the join forces and share as much information as we are able to publicly, to discourage these claims. PACA is willing to be the central point for collecting information.
Tamany has agreed to speak to any PACA member and can be reached below. We will continue to update members as we learn more about these filings.
Tamany Vinson Bentz, Esq. Venable LLP t 310.229.9905 f 310.229.9901
2049 Century Park East, Suite 2100
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Leslie Hughes, Visual Steam’s Founder recently spoke at the PACA 2013 Conference in NYC and mentioned how pleased and surprised she was to PacaSearch tied for fifth as the go-to website for buyers! If you’re not on our mega-search engine yet, you need to be….
“We look at this first survey of stock image buyers as a way to get a baseline understanding of market dynamics affecting image licensing today.”
Interested parties can download a written summary or view a video presentation of results.
The survey results provide a glimpse into what is driving stock image licensing today, how clients perceive top destinations, and what stock image providers can do better. Leslie Hughes, Visual Steam’s Founder, said, “We look at this first survey of stock image buyers as a way to get a baseline understanding of market dynamics affecting image licensing today. We were pleased with the results and hope to make this an annual survey.”
Visual Steam helps companies monetize content and art buyers find the content they need. The company offers a broad range of services to business clients including contract sales support, research services, management consulting services, training and marketing support. Equidyne Holdings, LLC, d.b.a. Visual Steam, works with companies innovating in visual, digital media. For more information on Visual Steam, we invite you to go to http://www.visualsteam.com, or contact info(at)visualsteam(dot)com. Visual Steam is a Corporate Sponsor of PACA.
The PACA staff and Program Committee are still riding high from the success of the PACA 2013 Conference! Feedback from participants has been great and we believe that this was one of our best conferences in recent years.
The move from a hotel seems to have been a positive one and we enjoyed being the only event going on in the Altman Building. The content of the sessions was excellent and full of amazing information for all in attendance. We plan to post as many power-point presentations and notes as possible on our website in the upcoming weeks.
We also will be sending out a post-conference survey, so please be looking for it in the next day or so. Please be sure to take a few minutes to fill it out, as it is our only way to hear from you and make adjustments for next year.
Thank you to all the fabulous speakers, panelists, committee members and everyone else who worked to make this a great event. We look forward to seeing everyone back in NYC next year!
Prices go up on August 10th, 2013, so be sure to register by August 9th!
FREE NETWORKING AREA: This year’s Conference at the Altman Building there will offer a free networking area for all participants. Free wi-fi will also be available to all attendees!!
This year’s theme will be “Opportunity in Change”. With the challenges we face in our industry today, where can we find opportunities to grow? We are very excited about the list of speakers that has already begun to grow with names of some of the brightest new stars in media!
JUST ADDED: NEW TECHNOLOGY PANEL WITH THESE REPRESENTATIVES Imagebrief
Ad & marketing agencies post a brief about an image they are looking for along with how much they are willing to pay for it. Approved pro photographers submit their images and if there is a match, a deal is made. Imagebrief keeps 20% of each transaction More info here Stipple
They create an interactive layer on photographs that allows persistent attribution anywhere the image is published as well as monetization via commercial tags. Furthermore Stipple keeps track of where the image is published along with traffic activity. More info here Tagasauris
Intelligent key wording powered by a combination of crowd and Artificial Intelligence. More info here Photobytes
In the cloud photo Photo Business tool . Extensive sets of documents and tracking tools to manage a photo business. More info here Symbiostock
Open source photo library platform that automatically links photographers’ image database. This allows an image buyer to search multiple independent databases at once from any site. More info here