Corbis Acquires Crowd-Sourced Photo Agency Demotix, After Its Move Into Apps

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Image giant Corbis has acquired Demotix, the crowd-sourced, breaking news picture and video agency which launched in 2008 and recently hit the milestone of a million images uploaded. The move follows Corbis’ investment in the startup after brokering a global distribution partnership. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Described by Turi Munthe, CEO and founder, as “the freelancer’s AP”, Demotix splits the revenue it gets from selling break news imagery 50/50 with the photographers, each time a pcitre is sold. Photos sourced from Demotix have appeared on the front pages of New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time, and The Guardian. They’ve produced some 75,000 stories from a user base of 35,000 users and 6,500 active photographers who are almost always closer to the action than traditional news bureaus, many of which have been cut to save strained media budgets. Demotix has community-based journalists in almost every country around the world, with particularly comprehensive networks in Europe, the Middle East and Asia – locations which complement Corbis’ existing network. Some 50,000 images go onto the service every month.

Corbis offers a curated selection of breaking news imagery from the Demotix collection through Corbis Images, as well a subscription product for publications.

Munthe said: “Demotix and Corbis share the same commitment to photojournalism and editorial integrity and our team is confident this acquisition will serve to increase the impact and opportunities for Demotix contributors.”

It’s likely that Corbis was attracted by Demotix’ natural move into smartphone apps (an Android app is out soon) which enables the agency to verify the authenticity of photos in a highly scalable manner. It could be that this ultimately becomes the core value of the company, as well as it’s ‘Mechanical Turk’ operation in sourcing images.

While competitors include Meeporter, AllVoices and Citizen Side in France (which broke the John Gallianno drunken ranting story), many have switched into enterprise platforms.