Fizwoz Offers Outlet for Mobile Photogs

The newest entry in the quest for new models of making money in news media is Fizwoz, an online marketplace for citizen journalists who want to sell their work to the highest bidder -- many of them major media companies.

The service, on display at a CES media reception after a soft launch last month, invites anyone to become a "Fizzer" and upload photos or videos for auction. Buyers pay via PayPal and Fizwoz staff reports that purchase prices range from a few dollars to thousands, and that most sales are for a few hundred bucks.

"We notify media companies that have said they're interested in specific topics," says Andy Shelton, founder and CEO. "The assignment desk feature also allows media companies to request types of content, and state a range of pay."

"Fizzers" must download a mobile application and register to get started. Fizwoz is available in the iPhone App Store and will soon be in Ovi, Nokia's mobile marketplace.

In the current model, photographers and videographers who sell their wares through Fizwoz transfer all copyrights to the buyer, Shelton said; however, another version aimed at professionals is in the works, and could give more licensing options.

Image categories include breaking news, entertainment, public figures, sports, places and (the catch-all) fun. For example, a recent selection included worldwide weather shots, car accidents, and celebrities caught on the street. Some of the media buyers who pluck pics from the site include traditional media organizations BBC, CNN, New York Sun-Times, USA Today, and a number of local TV stations, plus a variety of Websites.

Fizwoz's professional media connection comes in part through Brian Banmiller, a longtime CBS business correspondent and former anchor at KTVU, a Fox affiliate in Oakland, who signed on as Fizwoz chairman last month. "It's eBay for creative content," says Banmiller, who says he was struck by the potential to build a new, legal market model for both sellers and buyers.

The funky name? It's pronounced like FizWUZ and was partly inspired by "fiz," meaning "I did" in Portuguese, Shelton says.

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