6 Things You Missed at the 24th Annual DMLA Conference in LA

November 21, 2019


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The DMLA wrapped up its ambitious annual conference in LA October 27-29. The program featured major announcements and over 60 industry leaders discussed core issues the content licensing industry faces today. A new multi-track afternoon roundtable format encouraged attendee participation and deeper dives into a range of topics, with meals and sponsored parties to encourage networking. 

Here are six highlights.

Free Content Models Explained by Photographers and Platforms

In an industry which morphed from “rights managed” to a now dominant “royalty-free” licensing model, the emergence of free content was the lead-off topic in the “Navigating Disruption” themed conference. Leading Unsplash photographer Jeremy Bishop talked about the marketing and portfolio value in posting images for free and his satisfaction, for now, with a modest financial return. Laura Stanley, Head of Business Development for Pexels, described their current business model, as part of Canva, to attract customers to subscribe to Canva’s platform. Pexels also links users to photographer websites and provides them valuable search and usage data reports.  

Google Images Announces “Licensable” Badge

In a significant pivot from an earlier Google Images UI update under consideration and presented at CEPIC in Paris, Product Manager Francois Spies introduced a “badge” which will say “Licensable” – visible in the corner of the image thumbnail when viewing Image Search results. During the Explore Google Images Update session Francois described how many one-on-one conversations with large and small licensors helped to drive the change. The functionality will be triggered by a one-field addition when licensors utilize Schema.org or IPTC metadata protocols.

IBM introduces AI Model Release Prototype

Working with DMLA member Gado Images, Product Manager Sabtain Khan of IBM, as part of the Practical AI: What Artificial Intelligence Can Do For You Today session featuring CloudSight, Imagga and GoogleVision, premiered an AI system add-on to their Visual Recognition product to streamline licensors efforts to identify individuals requiring model releases. Speakers then engaged in a lively discussion about synthetic content, selling training data to AI companies, AI and the law and during the extended afternoon AI roundtable — diversity in AI. 

Growing Archival and Editorial Needs Bolster Trusted Content Sources

Bob Ahern, Director of Getty Images Archive, described a doubling of archival revenue over ten years and the insatiable needs of a growing customer base as a primary driver of Getty’s commitment to being a trusted source of editorial and historical content. Eileen Flanagan, who oversees third party licensing for Warner Media reinforced the point by saying “trusted content is assumed for those two vendors” with the second being Shutterstock. Lia Jusino, Head of Archival at Vice Media, where UGC content is critical to their coverage, talked about relying on trusted aggregators who vet UGC like Storyful, Jukin Media and Newsflare. 

Agencies Tackle Content Authenticity and Personalization

As Alamy CCO Alan Capel described the desire for “authenticity” as a constant in licensing once called “real-looking people”, Creative Director Sarah Fix-Casillas from Adobe suggested it had “seismically evolved over time.” And as Erik Huberman, founder of Hawke Media provided the brand perspective, emphasizing “aspirational” is still the driving force for most commercial licensors, Senior Creative Sarah Foster spoke of Getty Images initiatives and content creation partnerships driving experiential and diverse imagery that significantly expands the range of what we today consider “aspirational”. 

Cathy Aron, DMLA’s Executive Director presented Lifetime Achievement Award

In  a warm and emotional celebration of 15 years as Executive Director, Cathy Aron received only the third Lifetime Achievement Award in the 54 year history of the Digital Media Licensing Association. Guiding 24 annual conferences and the successful transition of PACA to the diverse trade association the DMLA is today, Cathy was honored by old friends, members and associates reflecting on a career of grace and accomplishment.

Stay tuned for 5 Copyright & IP Things You Missed, Keynotes on Disruption, a deeper dive into Google Images – DMLA Survey & Next Steps and announcements about our full session conference videos.