P.L.U.S. Coalition Creates A Universal Langauge For Image Licensing

The PLUS Coalition, a non-profit organization on a mission to simplify and facilitate the licensing of images, has just completed an international, industry-wide review of the PLUS Glossary, the first component of the Picture Licensing Universal System (PLUS). Due for release in the fourth quarter of 2005, the PLUS Glossary will provide standardized terms and definitions for use in image licensing transactions.

The PLUS Coalition is the first international cooperative assembled to improve the image licensing process. In the Coalition, photographers, illustrators, stock agencies, ad agencies, designers, publishers and artist's representatives are working together to create an integrated system of licensing standards. The organization recently released its second draft of the PLUS Glossary to hundreds of industry "Reviewers" -- leading professionals in the art, advertising and publishing industries -- receiving their input and recommendations for defining, revising and adding licensing terms to the glossary. Importantly, the PLUS Glossary is being edited and revised by the same people who will put it into practice once it has been approved and finalized.

Although image licensing transactions are estimated to exceed $6 billion annually, there are no industry standards defining the terms used in an image license, or the format in which a license is stated. As a result, the image licensing process is overly complex and prone to misunderstandings and liability. By creating a system of standards, the PLUS Coalition will allow image licensors and licensees to take advantage of current technologies to improve the process of acquiring licenses for both commissioned images and stock images.

The PLUS Coalition will not standardize or recommend pricing for image licenses. Prices will continue to be determined independently by each licensor and licensee.

The PLUS Glossary will be a free on-line resource consisting of more than 1,000 licensing terms whose definitions have been pre-approved by all industries involved in image licensing, worldwide. A printed version is also planned, and will available for a nominal fee. The glossary will be regularly updated to accommodate emerging technologies and licensing trends.

Once completed, the PLUS Glossary will work in concert with several other PLUS components also currently under development by the Coalition. The "PLUS License Format" will provide a universal format for defining, communicating, storing and retrieving image licenses. License information will travel as metadata within image files in a standardized format, allowing anyone in possession of the image easily determine the scope of the licensed use. The "PLUS Matrix" will provide a standardized hierarchy of media categories and subcategories, allowing users to identify and differentiate specific types of media usage such as "Point of Purchase" and "Out of Home." The Matrix will also make the licensing process easier and more transparent by applying "PLUS I.D." codes to each type of licensed use, creating the industry's first standardized billing code system.

Once completed, the PLUS Glossary and other PLUS System components will exist as the most comprehensive standards in the world of image licensing, creating a new, universal licensing language that is easy to understand, and easy to use.

The list of organizations and individuals participating on the PLUS Coalition's Advisory Council reads like a "Who's Who" of industry leaders. Nearly all of the major trade associations are participating, as are an impressive list of leading artists, art buyers, designers, artist representatives, stock agencies, software companies, and related standards bodies. All working cooperatively towards a shared goal: to bring image licensing into the 21st century.

To learn more about PLUS, visit www.useplus.org

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