Is Pixpalace involved in price fixing ? On a recent email send out by the company last week, Pixpalace, an online aggregation of photo agencies content similar to Newscom, asked it’s suppliers to agree on prices so it would be easier for publishers to purchase images. The intent is noble, the result is horrific.

Pixpalace has been trying to breach into the content aggregator market in the USA for a couple years, with little or no success. While they have grown in the amount of suppliers they mash up, 86 photo agencies at the last count, they have yet to demonstrate that they are actually a beneficial service for this industry.

Plagued with numerous glitches ( the system has been hacked recently and thousands of images stolen), they have also found that publishers in the United States are not  attracted to these type of platforms. One possible reason:

Any photo agency can sign up to add their images, including foreign photo agencies ( non US based) . The result ? a huge mish mash of doubtful quality with sub par metadata, often in a foreign language. Like Newscom, it has become a huge photo dumping ground where anything goes. Not really a resource/time saver for anyone.

Now, probably pushed by book publishers always looking for discount volume pricing, they are trying to convince their current 86 suppliers to agree to similar pricing. Armed with an Excel that appears to have been directly edited out of Getty images online price calculator, they strongly suggest for everyone to fall in line.

There is a lot of issues with the pricing and the rights that Pixpalace is suggesting everyone accepts, not the least is that price fixing is illegal in the United States. It also prices, for the exact same usage, commercial stock photography at four times higher than editorial . According to them, a photograph of a couple walking on the beach has four times the value of a picture taken of the war in Afghanistan. Wow.

It also treats, how quaint of them, digital rights  as a side thought of print publishing.

Pixpalace had the same issue in France, it’s country of origin. After being a succesful trading platform, it’s started getting involved in the pricing of the images they hosted, leading to the violent departure of it’s top suppliers and the creation of a competing platform, this time owned by photo agencies themselves.

There is a good chance that all of PixPalace suppliers who are not based in the USA will agree as they do not know the US market, creating a ” price dumping” situation and forcing others to follow in order to survive. There is a good chance that the no one will investigate the process for alleged price fixing. Finally, there is a good chance that  this will damage even more the marketplace thanks to a combination of ignorance, greed, incompetence and blindness, attributes that seem more and more frequent in the photo industry world.

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