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Pricing & Negotiating: Magazine Article Reprints

Tuesday August 9th, 2011

by Jess Dudley

Most magazine assignments don’t have big budgets on the front end, but if you play your cards right, you can help make up for it on the back end. One way to do that is to be savvy about article reprint licensing.

After a CEO or hedge fund manager lands on the cover of a publication or in a feature spread, they will usually hear from the reprint department of the magazine offering to license them reprints of the article. Reprints are a repackaged version of an article without the heft or distraction of the rest of the magazine, and they’re typically used by the subject of an article to promote their company. Eprints are like reprints, but rather than being printed, they’re packaged as a PDF that can be sent out by email (to a specified number of recipients) or posted online (for a specified period). Reprints and eprints can be valuable promotional tools because they carry what amounts to an endorsement from a trusted publication or news source.

When a photograph is used in the original publication, it’s considered editorial use. But repackaging and distribution by a third party constitutes advertising use which is often worth a lot more than the original job. The first thing photographers have to do to insure that they get their fare share of this value is make sure they reserve those rights. When a client sends you a contract, look at the fee and look at the rights you’re conveying in exchange for that fee. Do they match up? Decide what’s a fair price for one-time editorial use (per day and per page). Then add on additional fees for each additional use.

Some publishing companies are big enough to have their own in-house reprint departments. But most magazines will farm that work out to reprint companies like Foster, Pars, Reprint Outsource, Scoop, Wright’s or YGS. The sheer size and number of these companies should give you an indication of the value of reprints.

Some clients will want to secure reprint rights upfront, bundling it with the shoot fee. Others will want an option to purchase reprint rights (at predetermined prices) as the need arises. Still others prefer to negotiate reprint rights on a case-by-case basis. All of those are reasonable positions to take provided the compensation is fair. Here’s one magazine’s reprint terms:

For a period commencing on the first date you shoot or create the Photographs (or any of them) and ending three (3) months after Publisher’s first publication of any one or more of the Photographs in the Magazine (the “Exclusivity Period”), the exclusive right and license, throughout the universe, to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform, display, prepare derivative works based on, and exercise any and all other rights of copyright in and to, any one or more of the Photographs, in any and all media and methods of transmission now known or hereafter developed:

(ii) in a stand-alone reprint format, for the benefit of or on behalf of a third party, whereby any one or more of the Photographs is reproduced along with other material from the applicable issue of the Magazine, with or without additional material supplied by the applicable third party (each a “Reprint” and the rights referred to in this sub-paragraph 3(b)(ii) shall be referred to herein as the “Reprint Rights”).

(c) Commencing upon expiration of the Exclusivity Period, the perpetual, nonexclusive right and license, throughout the universe, in all media and methods of transmission now known or hereafter developed, to exercise, promote, and market, any Reprint Rights.

Cutting through the legal jargon, it basically says that the publication has the right to license the photographer’s image(s) to any third party for reprint use, in perpetuity, without any additional compensation the photographer. If you spot similar language in a contract without sufficient compensation for that additional use, you might consider crossing it out.

And of course, if a magazine doesn’t have their own contract, you’ll want to have them sign yours. Here’s a template you can use, as well as an explanation of it.

Once you’ve come to terms with your client, you can wait for the magazine or a reprint management service to drum up reprint interest with the subject/organization. Or even better, you can follow up with the subject yourself. Here’s a template we use:

Jane,

Thanks again for being such a good subject on the XYZ Magazine photo shoot. You can view a web gallery of all the pictures at the following link:

http://www.joephotographer.com/jp2011075_gallery_091311/

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to get article reprints, have prints made, license any of the pictures, or if there’s any photography I can help you with in the future.

All the best,

Joe

When formulating a price quote, consider the following:

  • Get a PDF of the original article. Often a reprint quote will be requested before you’ve seen the magazine yourself.
  • Determine the size and number of images and their significance to the overall package. The greater the number and size of the image(s), the more valuable they are. Multiple images of the same subject (that they could easily cut) might not be worth as much as multiple images of different subjects.
  • Who is the end user? It may be that multiple subjects from different companies were photographed for one article. If the main subject is ordering the reprints and your shot features some distant business associate twice removed, the photo is not going to be worth very much to the main subject. That will create downward pressure on the value because the client could easily eliminate your image from the reprint all together.
  • How important is your subject? Is it the CEO (which would have a higher value) or a middle-manager (which could have lower value.)
  • How big is the company? A bigger company may stand more to gain by using your pictures than a smaller company.
  • How many reprints do they want to send out? The greater the number of reprints, the greater the value.
  • Do they want eprints too? If so, how many (if they’re emailing them out) or for what duration (if they’re posting it on their website)?
  • As size, quantity and duration increases, the value increases, but not in direct proportion. (For example, we figure that doubling the number of reprints increases the value about 25%.)

Armed with that information, you can calculate the value. While it can certainly vary, we’ve found that reprint pricing is relatively consistent from client to client. After some years of experience pricing reprints, we’ve created a pricing matrix that we use to put us in the right ballpark.

Here are a few recent successful reprint quotes:

You can find additional reprint pricing guidance on fotoQuote. And photographer Jason Grow also has a pricing guide as well:

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