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Comments by YACCS
Monday, June 12, 2006

$4m wasted

The image from the cover of People appeared
on several Web sites days before the magazine,
with a premium price, went on sale.

In Web Era, Big Money Can't Buy an Exclusive

Published: June 12, 2006

After winning the very expensive rights to the first photographs of Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, the editors at People magazine formed a publicity plan. Appear for an interview with Matt Lauer on the NBC "Today" show. Give the photos to the tabloids, which will run them in full color on their front pages. Then, on Friday, release the pictures in glossy form to the world on newsstands everywhere, for an increased cover

Instead, days before their official publication, the pictures of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt cuddling their days-old infant first appeared on Gawker, and about two dozen other gossip blogs and Web sites. Some photos were taken from a bootleg copy of Hello! magazine, which had obtained the rights in Britain to the photos for a reported $3.5 million. Others that appeared later were from copies of People that the magazine says may have been stolen before official distribution. Within an hour of the first postings, lawyers for the magazine began unleashing cease-and-desist letters to the offending Web sites.

But did the Internet publication of the pictures really undermine People's publicity plan?

Magazine analysts say the blogs may have actually done the magazine a favor by drumming up even more interest that may translate into higher newsstand sales. But the episode does show that it is no longer business as usual for celebrity magazines, as gossip blogs take on an ever-larger role.

People magazine has been there before — most memorably when it planned to publish the exclusive pictures of Britney Spears's newborn son, only to see them reproduced prematurely on Web sites — but never with pictures worth so much and illegally posted so widely.

People's editors, who had just lived through an intense all-night bidding war that lasted by some accounts into Sunday morning, were livid when the photos were first leaked on Tuesday.

"As a guy who went through all the efforts to get these pictures, my initial reaction was anger," Larry Hackett, the managing editor of People, said in an interview on Friday. "Someone's taking your stuff."

The photos, after all, had come at a price: The New York Post reported that People had paid $4.1 million for the exclusive North American rights to the photos. Mr. Hackett said the number was inaccurate, but declined to name the real figure. "It was a substantial amount of money" was all he would say.

"Pics of the Messiah!" trumpeted the gossip blog DListed, with pictures that contained the tell-tale fold down the middle that are produced when a magazine is pressed onto a photo scanner. At, the pictures were enhanced with white handwriting over them. ("Hot Pop" on a picture of Mr. Pitt; "The Little Ladies" was written over a photo of Ms. Jolie, Shiloh and her other daughter, Zahara.)

Oops.Funny thing about digital media.Once it's out,it's out

posted by Steve @ 1:17:00 AM

1:17:00 AM

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