It’s the end of the year and soon the beginning of a new one. Time to review the past year and what better way them giving out awards, especially if it doesn’t involve a three hour long ceremony. Here goes, the first annual Thoughts of a Bohemian awards, or otherwise called the Bohey’s.

Best Photo agency : With close to a billion images available and 100 million contributors-curators, Instagram has outpaced any other existing photo agency. It has also already achieved the incredible goal of selling itself for $700 million without ever licensing one image ( or make any money, that is). All that with 13 employees and no marketing. It has finished the year, outpacing Twitter on mobile, creating free web pages for all of its contributors and getting slapped in the hand for trying to license those images. Make no mistake, they will enter the photo licensing world in 2013, albeit maybe not in the traditional way, and be as disruptive, if not more, then Flickr  as a source of images. Will Getty be involved as they have been with Flickr ? You can bet they are certainly trying.

Best photography site : Hands down, The Guardian has done the best job at showing and educating anyone interested in photography. Not only following a long british tradition of publishing some amazing images but also in creating some innovative articles about photography. It is sober yet intelligent, opinionated,  inventive and extremely satisfactory.

Best photo job description: Earlier this year, Time inc published what must have been the most revealing job description regarding how publishers see photography these days. In an effort to find a Photo Editor for one of it’s publication, they placed an ad containing all the attributes necessary to be a good editor, and added this one:

” Must be creative in terms of doing more with less for less—and must be ready and willing to do so.  “

In other words, buy the best images for the least amount of money possible.

Best copyright infringement site : It seems that the most blatant you are at doing something, the less people seem to be concerned. Take Pinterest, for example. The fastest growing site in the short history of the internet, it is entirely built on the premise that copying someone else’s photograph without permission is not only ok, but fun. If that was not shocking enough, their terms of service offers them

 a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, store, display, reproduce, re-pin, modify, create derivative works, perform, and distribute your User Content on Pinterest solely for the purposes of operating, developing, providing, and using the Pinterest Products. Nothing in these Terms shall restrict other legal rights Pinterest may have to User Content, for example under other licenses. We reserve the right to remove or modify User Content for any reason, including User Content that we believe violates these Terms or our policies.”

However, while voicing concerns, the professional photo community has yet to challenge them legally, letting them and their users continue posting and sharing images for which they have no rights to do so. They have successfully, so far at least, created a business almost entirely on blatant copyright infringement.

Best financial deal : After purchasing Getty Images for $2.4 billion  four years ago, Hellman Friedman took $950 million in dividends and successfully sold it back for $3.5 billion. That is almost $2 billion profit in four years. For the happy Getty contributors, that is also an indication that they are at the wrong end of the transaction. Getty images will continue, unchanged, under the new ownership of the Carlyle group who will certainly try to operate the same kind of lucrative arrangement in the next four to five years.

Most optimistic prediction for 2013 : When Shutterstock was still a private company, they offered potential investors a glimpse into their activities in order to spur interest. I their prospectus, they offer analysis done by research firm BCC Research, that states :

BCC Research estimated that the market for pre-shot commercial imagery was $2.7 billion in 2008 and projected to grow to $5.1 billion by 2013. “

Since this not an estimate of image sold but of total revenue, we will need to see a lot of new image buyers enter the market, or/and current buyers licensing even more images. If this were true, it is great news for the industry in general. Unfortunately, all indicators at the end of 2012 do not seem to confirm this prediction. Maybe they know something we don’t ? Or were they just trying to make Shutterstock ( whose IPO was very successful)  more appealing ?

Crapiest sports portrait ever :

remember these ?

Joe Klamar olympic portrait

You can see more here : Denver Post

Enough said.

Most consequential legal decision of the year :

While we were in the middle of the summer haze, beaten up by a global warming sun, a court decision slipped into the news with little or no reaction. However, if followed in the future, it could dramatically change copyright rules on the internet and make any photograph posted fair game.

In a court decision in a case of Flava Works against myVidster, 7th Court judge Richard Posner ruled that “as long as the visitor makes no copy of the copyrighted video that he is watching, he is not violating the copyright owner’s exclusive right.”

Meaning, in other words, that as long as a video ( or photograph) is not hosted on a site, it is not considered an infringement. According to this ruling, an embedded image, for example, is not an infringement, nor is an image link. Rather, it is considered the same as someone going to a bookstore, reading a copyrighted book without paying, and leaving. We see this happened at all the Barnes and Nobles nationwide.

No need to add that Facebook and the MPPA ( not on the same side, obviously)  have been very involved in this case and Pinterest must have celebrated that day. Question remains is if this ruling will hold on against future case ?

Most popular image on Pinterest:

With almost 100,000 repins, 14,000 Likes and 186 comments, here it is:

Pinterest most popular

Obviously Pinterest users are hungry.

Most helpful company :

And you thought they were just hosting images. Between the first ever Luminance summit regrouping some of the brightest and interesting mind in photography today and their extremely well researched and documented free e-books about the photography business, Photoshelter is certainly the most helpful and photographer friendly company, even if you are not one of their clients. They genuinely  care about the people they aim to serve and love the space they are in. In 2012, they outdid themselves.

Of course we could have added more awards for 2012 but it has to end somewhere and this is it for now. 2013 is just a few days away and promises to be one of the most exciting in photography even if some of us might not enjoy it.

Author: pmelcher

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