Kodak’s bid to own your pictures

You couldn’t make this up. But I’ll let Dan Bricklin (a keen digital photographer) tell the story

The idea of a “Wi-Fi” camera seems exciting but in trying to understand it I found that it comes with a big boat anchor — the photos are uploaded to Kodak’s site. But you don’t really own the pictures. If you ask they will sell your photos to you and deliver them to you on a CD (no downloads!) which contains your entire collection of pictures! According to their site you can’t even specify which photos — you have to pay according to how many photos are in your account!

Since the site and rules may change there’s what KodakGallery (formerly Ofoto) currently says: “When you order an Archive CD, your entire photo collection will be preserved on CD. Photos are saved as full-sized JPEGs in their original resolution. Archive CDs are priced according to the total number of photos in your account.”

While the idea of having your photos automatically moved from your camera to the Internet sounds wonderful, you lose ownership of your own pictures. Or maybe you shouldn’t think of them as yours — they effectively belong to Kodak and you get only controlled access. As much as Kodak seems to want to leave their silver-halide heritage behind they seem to be stuck in the old business model of making money when you process the picture, when you print the picture and whenever you want to print it again. It’s another example of how hard it is for a company to change its basic nature.

This is part of the larger trend that is fighting to keep control. The record industry doesn’t want to let you have any control over the bits you buy and Tellywood wants to wrap everything in a very tight DRM straightjacket. These are a business premised on control and they seem unable to change their basic nature. For them it makes a lot of sense to fight the future as long as they can. They have no better option and if they are smart they are taking cash out so when their business evaporates they can retire.