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AP Photos splits entertainment coverage
Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 11:38 AM on 05.23.12
->> AP is splitting off its entertainment coverage to an offshoot "for profit" company called Invision the wire service created. What is interesting is the second paragraph that says Invision will cover pre-planned and credentialed entertainment events while AP itself will cover unplanned events, entertainment related crime, courts, etc. If true, this sounds like the Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, film festivals, etc. -- all pre-planned and credentialed -- will be covered by Invision and not AP anymore.

What will also be interesting to see is what develops in the relationship Invision will have with subjects and event promoters versus AP's ethical restrictions. If the ethics are the same then one could surmise there wouldn't be a need for the split. Another possible theory for the split is to gain the ability to create long-term outside photographer contract relationships thereby bypassing the guild contract that represent AP staffers. If this was done with AP stringers there could be union and federal labor law arguments to have the stringers classified as "staff" -- which has been done in the past.

And for the conspiracy theorists out there, this might be compared to USA Today photographers being replaced by US Presswire shooters at the Olympics. In this case AP staff coverage opportunities are being replaced by Invision royalty shooters. (Have at it.)

Here is the PR release from Monday:

The Associated Press today launched a new commercial entertainment photography company as part of a global strategy to expand AP’s photo business. The company, called Invision, is a for-profit, joint venture between AP and some of the world’s leading entertainment photographers.

Partnering with premier photographers with deep experience in entertainment photography, Invision will aggressively pursue exclusive commercial photographer opportunities, covering planned and credentialed entertainment events and providing photo assignment services to entertainment clients. AP, meanwhile, will continue to cover unplanned entertainment events such as breaking celebrity news as well as entertainment related crime and courts coverage.

“Invision will help ensure that our members and customers have the most immediate and intimate access to commercial entertainment imagery, and help us provide unparalleled coverage in a market that continues to grow,” said Fernando Ferre, vice president of AP Images. “It’s another step in AP’s strategy to make our images business even more competitive by providing comprehensive offerings and attracting new customers.”

Invision will use highly accomplished entertainment photographers, who are well connected and in demand within the entertainment industry, said Ferre. Planned coverage for Invision in the next few months will include the premiere of Men in Black 3 and the American Idol finale.

Dan Becker, entertainment director for AP Images, will move to Invision as its managing director. AP is the majority owner of Invision. Imagery from the company will be licensed on

For several months now, AP’s commercial photography business, AP Images, has been working with other departments, including Marketing, Technology and News on an initiative aimed at protecting and strengthening AP’s position in the very competitive photo marketplace.

AP Images has named this initiative ICE: Images Customer Expansion. As part of the initiative, the group has established collaborative relationships with several photography providers and collections to complement AP’s own portfolio, including Corbis Images; Fotolia, a leading microstock image company; and LAT and Autostock, two agencies that specialize in motor sports coverage.

Most recently, AP renewed its high-profile contract with the National Football League, to exclusively offer NFL photos for commercial purposes.


Here's the link to AP's trademarking application with a description on what Invision will be:
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Jim Colburn, Photographer
Omaha | NE | USA | Posted: 3:15 PM on 05.23.12
->> This company has had a trademark on "Invision" for years...
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 4:54 PM on 05.23.12
->> And if you do a Google search on Invision you'll get many results -- from a huge company in Indonesia to photographers and photo services in the U.S.

Invision is not an innovative name.
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Dave Einsel, Photographer, Photo Editor
Houston | TX | United States | Posted: 9:57 PM on 05.23.12
->> The move makes sense from a business perspective. There is a lot of cash in entertainment. The AP is the largest news organization in the world and covering the world costs a pile of money.

But, from the website: "The AP is a not-for-profit cooperative owned by the 1,400 U.S. daily newspapers that are AP members. These members elect a board of directors that directs the cooperative."

One issue here is that over the last two decades, a lot of the member papers have disappeared along with their annual assessments. Money from the remaining members now accounts for a very small portion of the AP's revenue and organizations like Yahoo have become the cash cows for the co-op. Hence, was born. Because of this, I believe, the AP has drifted from its original foundation of being a service for the members by the members. Given the economics, I understand the shift.

The higher concern to me is the crumbling of the wall between the .org and the .com. At what point is unbiased journalism sacrificed for commerce. It is difficult to separate the two when an organization is the official licensing arm of an entity they cover. In my former life as a director of photography at a pretty big newspaper, I once told a Getty salesperson who was thrilled that they had become the official photo agency for the NBA that I would be not using their NBA photos because I felt it was a conflict of interest.

The other concern is for the photographers shooting the assignments. Who are these "accomplished entertainment photographers" and will they be paid competitive day rates and usage fees or will they be shooting on spec and hoping for big sales? Will their cuts be fair or end up as the leftovers of all the splits between the parties involved?

Time will tell. In the end it is simply business and photographers must decide themselves whether the business is good for them.
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Jim Colburn, Photographer
Omaha | NE | USA | Posted: 10:33 PM on 05.23.12
->> "Invision is not an innovative name"

But how many of those companies already have the name trademarked?
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 11:08 PM on 05.23.12
->> In reference to Dave's statement about being born, it wasn't. It is just a name change (and reorganization) from its predecessor -- Wide World Photos -- that was around for decades. WWP was also a commercial offshoot of AP.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 12:03 AM on 05.24.12
->> Jim,

Numerous companies can trademark the same name for different products/services. I happen to own the trademark for the word "Sportview" for a video production service. Bausch & Lomb has trademarked the same word for their line of binoculars.

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Dave Einsel, Photographer, Photo Editor
Houston | TX | United States | Posted: 8:43 AM on 05.24.12
->> Doug is absolutely correct regarding Wide World becoming AP Images. Perhaps it was a natural progression due to technology but I feel with the reorganization came a much more aggressive attitude for commercial sales.
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Keith Nordstrom, Photographer, Photo Editor
Attleboro | MA | USA | Posted: 12:26 PM on 05.24.12
->> So do member papers now have to buy entertainment photos from Invision? Or will we be happy with the seconds and out-takes in our daily photo report?
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 12:27 PM on 05.24.12
->> Regarding Mark's point, one trademark example all of us have probably heard of is Apple -- Apple electronics and the Beatles' Apple record label -- and the lawsuit that evolved when the computer maker moved into music. Identical trademark names can co-exist as long as they pertain to different worlds.

FYI, last night was probably Invision's first full push into entertainment coverage -- the American Idol finale. Over 1,200 images were shot according to what's in the AP photo archive; plus hundreds more from another agency. According to a newspaper's photo server, over 1,600 images were transmitted. In addition to Invision, AP also distributes images from other sources such as PictureGroup which is a celebrity/entertainment photo agency who also shot last night's show.
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Mike Burley, Photographer
Dubuque | IA | USA | Posted: 1:15 PM on 05.24.12
->> To add to Doug's point, trademark was created to protect the consumer from being confused, not companies - although it benefits both. Two companies can have the same name if they are in different enough industries or serve a different market.
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Keith Nordstrom, Photographer, Photo Editor
Attleboro | MA | USA | Posted: 2:13 PM on 05.24.12
->> Doug,

1,600 images! Boy your paper must be buying AP's more expensive entertainment package.

I know we only subscribe to the minimum and our choices came down to a few dozen images, several in triplicate, none that good and most sent past deadline here on the East Coast.

The one image transmitted of the winner performing solo arrived at 1:47am showing him looking down as he played the guitar, an image I may not even have kept if I had ANYTHING better.

Logging into AP Images I again saw only 2-3 dozen images available with only a few different.

We had a local finalist in show several years ago. Had they won this year we would have been out of luck. I guess if we wanted a good photo, we would have had to purchase it separately.
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Thread Title: AP Photos splits entertainment coverage
Thread Started By: Doug Pizac
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