WhoSay, AP Strike Partnership That Enables Stars to License Their Own Photos to Media Outlets

9:00 PM PST 12/13/2011 by Kimberly Nordyke

The deal will allow the members of Hollywood's newest social media hub, who include Charlie Sheen, Eva Longoria and Rihanna, to have complete control over which content they share with their fans via the mainstream media, CEO Steve Ellis tells THR.

WhoSay, Hollywood's newest social media hub, has teamed up with the Associated Press to give its members the option to provide their exclusive, personal photos and videos to AP Images for licensing to major media outlets worldwide.

Under the agreement, each time WhoSay members create new photos and videos, they will be able to make that content available for licensing via AP Images, the AP’s commercial photo division.  

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AP Images also will provide photo services at events upon request to WhoSay members, who will own these images while giving AP Images the ability to license them.

“At WhoSay, our members create thousands of unique and authentic images every month for their fans to enjoy,” CEO Steve Ellis said. “By partnering with AP Images, we’ll be able to give our members the option to personally participate in the mainstream media marketplace, where they already generate such enormous interest and value.”

The members get to choose which content gets licensed to the AP.

"It's totally within their control," Ellis told The Hollywood Reporter.

Asked whether the clients will receive money as part of the AP arrangement, Ellis replied: "To the extent the AP ends up licensing images for fees, our clients are able to participate in that, yes." But he didn't provide further details.

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WhoSay, which launched last year, was co-founded by CAA; Amazon, Greylock Partners and High Peaks Ventures are investors. 

WhoSay's member list, which currently numbers at nearly 1,000, is comprised of actors, athletes, recording artists and other famous personalities such as Charlie Sheen, Eva Longoria, Kristin Cavallari, Jordin Sparks, Lindsay Lohan, Sofia Vergara, Rihanna, Nikki Reed, Paris Hilton, Bravo's Andy Cohen and Snoop Dogg. Celebrities can join by invitation only or request to become a member.

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The site was designed to allow its members to upload their own images and videos to WhoSay and then post them to social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and China's Tencent. The draw is that the celebrities can have a more direct connection with their fans in the social media arena while also retaining legal ownership of their content.

So far, all of the response to the AP deal has been positive, Ellis said.

"They know they have the unique ability to create interesting content, and that's powerful stuff," he said, adding that WhoSay is looking to add more options of a similar nature for its clients.

Separately, AP and WhoSay also have agreed to allow AP journalists to use the WhoSay platform to post their self-shot photos and videos on their pages and distribute them onto social networks. The AP is starting with 20 journalists and may expand to include others.

“We continue to look for new ways to innovate in the social media space, and this agreement does so in the photo marketplace and with our journalists,” said Lou Ferrara, the AP managing editor who oversees the agency’s social media efforts. 

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