In a tussle that may have implications for Canadian magazine publishers and their freelance contributors, Time Inc.'s People magazine has apparently had to postpone the launch of its iPad app because photographers want additional payments for use of their images.
According to a front page story in the Hollywood Reporter, more than a dozen agencies representing photographers are balking at the reuse of celebrity shots.
While the standoff centers on one publication for now, just about any other brand that makes photos of the rich and famous their stock in trade is watching nervously from the sidelines. Whatever deal they strike could set the terms of trade for the industry going forward.
Negotiations are scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday) in New York.
"I do think it's an important moment as far as the photo-agency business model," said Jill Stempel, New York bureau chief for World Entertainment News Network, which on Tuesday was considering joining the agency alliance. "We need to take a stand."
A People spokeswoman refused to comment beyond offering the following statement: "The People iPad application launch date has absolutely nothing to do with photo agencies."
Photo agencies see the tablet market as a game-changer, the story said.
"They realized that in most cases People.com was not making ad revenue or subscription money off extended use of their photos," said Brandy Navarre, vp at X17, a photo agency that plans to negotiate separately from its unified front of competitors. "But when you're talking about paid apps supplemented by advertisements, that's something different altogether."
People wants free use of photos, saying the app (which costs consumers $4.99) essentially replicates the print magazine. It is also arguing that photo use is covered by a clause in overall licensing agreements that allows for promotional repurposing.