Confusion and mixed messages are creating a worried atmosphere in the world of Splash News contributors.

First, the news broke that Silverhub Media signed a worldwide and exclusive distribution deal with Shutterstock. The news made no sense, SilverHub having little to no content of value for the microstock giant until it was announced not long after that Silverhub had acquired Splash News from BEN (ex-Corbis Images). To make the deals clearer, it was revealed, via a document obtained by Jim Pickerell’s Stock Stock that Shutterstock ( via its wholly owned Rex Feature brand)  had in fact lent Silverhub the money to acquire Splash News. Thus Shutterstock gets to distribute the still valuable Splash News production via SilverHub, thanks to its exclusive international distribution agreement. Pretty straightforward. Until Today.

In an email sent to all Splash News contributors, co-founder Nick Evans-Lombe states:

We want to also reiterate that Splash News and SilverHub will operate as two separate entities, and the Splash distribution network will remain as it is, and there is no requirement to put the Splash content through the Shutterstock distribution platform.[Emphasis ours]

It appears that SilverHub intends to keep the Splash News brand and network intact while funneling some of its content through Shutterstock, probably to avoid a massive exodus of its contributors. Splash News functions primarily as a Right Managed business with some of its production generating hefty license fees. Those would immediately disappear in the Shutterstock’s RF subscription model, dropping photographer’s commissions from thousands of dollars to a few cents for the same images.

Nevertheless, Shutterstock’s loan was obviously not made to help out an emerging company expand its offering and its exclusive worldwide distribution deal was not intended for Silverhub’s pre-Splash News content. Medium to long-term, Shutterstock will distribute all of Splash News content, either via the creation of an RM division (doubtful) or integrating it in its current subscription model (via a premium ?). Time (or another leaked document) will tell .

What is clear is that Splash News is nothing without its contributors and fast dropping commissions will make them leave. To make matters more difficult, both the Mega Agency, created by ex Splash News co-founder Kevin Smith and Cover Images, created by Wenn founder Lloyd Beiny, must be murmuring songs of riches to those same contributors. SilverHub will have to walk on thin ice to avoid mass defection. Otherwise, they will be left with an empty shell and a large debt.

Photo by bobosh_t

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