One of the interesting aspects of the launch of The Daily this week, for those of us who are in the business of licensing images, is how to price those images.

Traditionally, an image license takes in consideration the circulation of the publication. And with  print, it is no problem. A publisher will decide how many copies to print and hope that they will all sale. Thus, the circulation is clear, cut, precise.

With an Ipad only publication, well, at first, there is no circulation. The publisher releases an issue and waits to see how many people will download it. Thus, the real circulation numbers are only known after the issue has been replaced by the new one.

So how do you price that ? Well, the best you can do is price the license based on known numbers. Those would be the ones of yesterday’s issue and hope they will be close enough.

But what if it’s a new circulation and it has no previous numbers? Do you use zero as the circulation number ? probably not.

It used to be that the publisher took all the weight of the publication cost.  By deciding how many copies to print, they would, in effect, also decide the cost of an image. Now, it is up to the licensor to partly take over that responsibility. They have to try and figure out the licensing value of their images based on an educated guess. There is a good chance they will always be too low.

In a perfect world, the image license fee should be decided at the end of the day ( for a newspaper, like The Daily) based on how many downloads. It would be possible if the publisher would share these numbers with you. While they are more than willing to do so  with advertisers, they will not with image suppliers.

An ” intelligent image” could report back to you and automatically bill your clients based on downloads, at the end of the day. It would be fair, especially if your image( s) where instrumental in provoking a spike. Otherwise,  you are left to play a guessing game with a blindfold.

Slightly related :

Like everyone else, I have been following the events in Egypt. It is hard to say, and maybe see, the image or images that will remain as icons of this movement. However, they are plenty going around. However, one unnerving  item is Time Magazine. On their website ( and maybe in print), they have there sideshow by Dominic Nahr from Magnum. While the image are good, there are two main aspects that are wrong:

– One : they call it “Time Exclusive photos: The Clashes in Cairo.” . This make it sound like they are the only ones to have covered this event. Which clearly they are not.What is exclusive is that you will only see Dominic Nahr’s coverage of the clashes on Time.com.

Not sure if anyone cares.

– Two: The whole page has to refresh every time you switch to the next photograph. You would think that for a publication own by Time Warner, we could expect a better site design than one done by a 11 year old in 1994. Come on people, it’s 2011!!

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