Thursday, February 14, 2008

Changes at Imagekind: the pros and the cons



There's been a few changes recently at Imagekind - which is the website where you can buy fine art prints of my work. I can see some advantages and disadvantages which are discussed below. Plus there's one development that hasn't yet happened.

GREETING CARDS BETA

This is potentially good news BUT it's a very curious roll-out of a Beta. I personally think they need to roll it back in right away and review it before proceeding any further. Here are the pros and the cons as I see it and why I have this view

Pros:
  • responding to sellers requests for this functionality
  • options around card stock seem fine
Cons:
  • no announcement via e-mail to account holders, in the Forum for Site Announcements or on the Imagekind Blog.
  • no formal information about what this means
  • no agreement in advance about what copyright or other creator information will be provided on the card
  • screen templates set up for people to tick boxes to accept greeting card formats - without adequate information about the service
  • "But it's a beta!" I hear you say. To which my response is that there is established good practice about what to do when releasing Beta versions - and this has very definitely not been followed. I could wax chapter and verse on this topic - but won't. The bottom line is that it does not conform to good practice for beta release.
  • However, the aspect which concerns me the most is that the existing beta release allows those purchasing the cards to crop images any way they like. This breaches copyright and is a fundamental flaw in the beta release.
Creating a new image through cropping an existing copyright protected image is a breach of an artist's copyright UNLESS that artist had provided a licence for this to happen. So far as I'm aware I've never given a licence for my work to be cropped and indeed would not do so. Any crops of my work can only be performed by me. I'm happy to provide crops to fit standard formats - but that will require the use of separate images. I am not happy for other people to do that without my explicit consent. I'd be much happier setting up a gallery specifically for greetings cards - where the options for sizing conformed to those of greetings cards. It's also of concern that a number of people accepted the greeting cards option without realising what would happen to their images.

Do I lose ownership of my images when I upload them to Imagekind?

No. You are not transferring ownership of your artwork to Imagekind and retain any and all rights in and to the content that you upload to Imagekind. By submitting content to Imagekind, you are granting us a nonexclusive license to produce your image for an Imagekind product. Please read our Terms of Use for more detailed information.
Imagekind - Sellings FAQs

Producing an image means producing THE image submitted - NOT part of it.

I recommend that Imagekind account holders do NOT agree to use the greetings cards option until this issue has been satisfactorily resolved. I believe the existing beta release breaches copyright. This is serious and needs an immediate review by Imagekind and adequate controls put in place ASAP.

INDIVIDUAL IMAGES - DEFAULT VIEW CHANGE

The default view has changed from the version including mat and frame (or whatever) as defined by the artist to image only. A smaller version of the artist defined view is still available.

Pros:
  • more emphasis on the image and less on the framing - which improves the buying experience for the customer
  • it prompts people to see that prices for prints can be very acceptable (as opposed possibly to being deterred by a price including mat and frame)
Cons:
  • there's a lot of people who've spent a long time sorting out mats and frames who might now be wondering why they spent the time..........
  • more importantly, the amount of text showing on the image page to describe the image is severely circumscribed - which means that anybody who worked at keywords matching content description might well find that Google doesn't love them anymore.
The priority change required is for more space to be given to the content description. Google works best at indexing words not images.

PRICE CHANGE FUNCTION

It's now possible to change the sale price of all the images in a gallery or across the portfolio by a separate amount - either in percentage mark-up terms or as a finite dollar amount.

Pros:
  • useful for enabling a common approach across all images
  • helps with price increases or decreases across the portfolio
Cons:
  • function does not appear to work consistently - which means a check should be made
  • feedback on change is poor - it's not clear whether or not a change has taken (some didn't when I tried using the function for a single image)
  • transparency is difficult when logged in as the system wants to show you what it would cost you to buy without the mark-up.
This needs more work. Imagekind account users are recommended to be cautious and to check on a regular basis.

IMAGE UPLOADER BETA

A beta version of an Image Uploader was announced in January. I use my Flickr Image Uploader all the time (I archive to Flickr) and am a huge fan of it as it makes multiple uploads so much easier.

Pros:
  • an essential feature to have - it's good to see the recognition of the need
  • uploader allows you to choose which gallery to upload too
Cons:
  • It didn't work when I tried to use it to upload just one tiff image (c16mb) at a time when traffic is not great. The uploader suggested traffic problems. I suspect image size problems or problems with the software.
  • uploads limited to 10 images at a time (which means compared to Flickr that this is very much a kindergarten version of an image uploader. )
  • unclear whether there is a security cloak around the sign-on to your account from the uploader - before you can upload

WHAT'S NOT HAPPENED?

The main thing which has not happened is an issue which applies to all Gallery type services which operate online.

If you buy an advertising/marketing service from a print journal, then you are entitled to expect that they can provide you with detailed stats about the scope and characteristics of the market they cover, their buyers and the number of sales. The more credible publications also have their figures independently audited so that purchasers can rely on the service they are offering in terms of getting a magazine in front of the right demographic etc.

Now I've come across online websites which have made arguments for saying that site statistics are a 'state secret'. WRONG! Statistics are commercial bread and butter. Ranking charts for the leading players always revolve around numbers of sales / viewers / visitors etc. Successful sites always make sure people know what their statistics are and they boast about them! Consumers are always interested in who's in the top 100 or the top 10.

The issue for me is that the overall approach to statistics and marketing by online galleries really needs to start making some progress PDQ towards having the same sort of authenticated and audited approach to site statistics that print publications have. It's very clear that advertising is moving online. Well in my view that means the nature and level of professional practice as to the scope of the service being offered also needs to move online too.

This emphatically isn't a dig at Imagekind in any way. It's a challenge for all companies doing business like this online. It's about all companies like Imagekind doing the right thing long term in terms of best practice and professional success - and it's about time we started to see it happen.

WHERE YOU CAN SEE MY WORK

To access my work on Imagekind you need to go to http://makingamark.imagekind.com/
I'm currently uploading some images and splitting my flowers into colour bias galleries - which is rather interesting! Here are the links to the galleries for white flowers, blue flowers, pink red flowers and peachy yellow flowers.

However if you want to see all my flowers at once then try putting "Katherine's flowers" into the search box. "Katherine's cats" will get you all the work in the catnapping and feline art galleries.

Links:

7 comments:

Chris Bolmeier said...

Katherine,
As an Imagekind member I appreciate that you've taken the time to sort out the pros and cons. I skimmed the article and I concur with your statement that there should be information provided by Imagekind to their members about all kinds of statistics. Not just to the individual about their own member stats.
Chris Bolmeier

Edition Handdruck said...

Hi Katherine,
thanks for the intervention regarding copyright.. I did not think this to the end (disabled cards now for my images). As to statistics I don´t believe that there is an obligation for IK to publish sales figures. Also I am not sure whether it is wise to do so at the current state of business. But I still do not understand why IK does not provide sufficient transparcency on traffic. As to the cards you might have noticed that I joined a POD website recently. Their traffic statistic provides good transparency,which is helpful for the members in many ways,membership is free.

Chris O'Byrne said...

Wow, I am really suprised by how they have handled the card situation. You're right, there were no announcements, emails, or anything. And the part about cropping the image is very disturbing. Thanks for the heads up!

Sarah at Imagekind said...

Katherine, I think your article was objective, fair and well-written.

Our CEO, Kevin, has posted a response in our forum about many of these items, and I invite everyone to go take a look. We hope this will ease everyone's concerns.

http://forum.imagekind.com/comments.php?DiscussionID=1398&page=3#Item_45

Katherine said...

This is the link to the forum thread and my response in that thread

I'll comment again in this thread - and probably elsewhere on this blog - when matters have been resolved satisfactorily.

dianeclancy said...

Hi Katherine,

Thank you for sharing this information!! I had no idea .. I don't remember getting any email about this change.

I really appreciate your sharing this info plus your analysis!!

~ Diane Clancy
www.DianeClancy.com/blog
www.YourArtMarketing.com

Lynda Lehmann said...

Very useful information for those of us who are trying to market on Imagekind.

I admire you for your ability to do incisive analysis and communicate it. Thanks for sharing your observations with us in a clear and well written post.

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