Digital Railroad ( Bites the Dust

Ouch. Further attrition hits the photo news today as Digital Railroad announces it is shutting its doors. Speculation that this was going to occur has been widely reported within the industry, but today this notice appeared at

October 28, 2008

To our valued Members and Partners:

We deeply regret to inform you that Digital Railroad (DRR) has shut down.

On October 15th we reported that the company had reduced its staff and was aggressively pursuing additional financing and/or a strategic partner. Unfortunately, those efforts were unsuccessful. Therefore Digital Railroad has been forced to close all operations.

Digital Railroad has attracted a loyal set of customers and partners, and we regret this unfortunate outcome. Without sufficient long-term financial support, the business had become unsustainable.

Thank you for allowing us to serve the photographic community these past few years.

All questions pertaining to claims should be addressed to:

Digital Railroad, Inc
c/o Diablo Management Group
1452 N. Vasco Road, #301
Livermore, CA 94551

Very sad news indeed. I had some good friends over there that have driven that bus for a while – time to call them up and buy them a stiff drink. Of course this comes on the heels of Photoshelter’s pull back from the licensing marketplace last month. This double whammy is sad news – two outfits that were doing a good job gunning for photographers, now down the tube.

While there is no “twist” to this story in the classic sense, keep in mind that the sky is not falling. Yes, the economy is tough. But for artists, this is a reminder that over time capitalism rolls up and aggregates the creation and distribution of commodities. Solution: work to create images that are not (yet?) commodified. Find your own voice and shout it out loud.

Those that want more nuts and bolts or have accounts with (update: want to get my true feelings on this whole matter…) should read on after the jump…

The SAA recommends that any photographers that stored archives on take the following steps:

-Ensure that all of your files and data are backed up.

-Download all details of licenses made with outstanding royalties due.

-Download a list of all registered users who have accessed your Archive.

-Check that any monthly or annual fees do not continue to be billed to your credit card.

They’ve also said: “SAA is greatly concerned about the status of outstanding royalties due to photographers from DRR’s Marketplace stock portal, as well as the manner in which this closure has been handled, giving loyal customers no reasonable advance warning or support. We will continue to monitor the situation and try to assist in any way we can on behalf of photographers.”

I hope that DRR will do a respectable job of tidying up their obligations to photographers.

Update: signs point to DRR doing a horrendous job tidying up. I’m so disappointed. 24 hours for photographers to get their images down? Hellllloooo? Server trouble, bandwidth, missing payments? Make a freaking announcment or two, would ya? It’s no wonder that the company that acquired them for the parsing our of their assets is called Diablo Management… The devil is at it again.

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Tess Moosa says:

I read this post fully regarding the comparison of hottest and previous technologies, it’s awesome article.

Were you left high and dry by Digital Railroad going bust?
I know a company that has a good piece of image library software – they do footage libraries too.
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Will says:

Damn, and I just made a nice sale through DRR…, oh well, onward & upward

Richard Cave says:

In answer to your concerns, yes it is a hard environment to come into. You need to be a businessman first, tog second.

archiving and digital storage is a serious concern. It gets to the pont where archiving has trebled in cost to just having a slide collection.

You need to account for all images and you need to pay for it. It would be prudent to insure your online storage as well as your physical storage.

To insure your storage you need to keep records. It is very very difficult place to be at the moment.

Richard Cave says:

time you set up a agency Chase,

You can sign me up.


I have been caught up in this debacle. Tried to move my images to PS last night. No dice. Tried again today after hearing the DRR server was supposed to be up. No good so far. I do have backups of everything, but I will lose my keywording. Also have payments pending from DRR. Guess I’ll never see those either. What a clusterf**k! Welcome to the world of professional photography. Been doing this for 30 years and I have never seen the business in this kind of overall shape before.

Jacob says:

It’s certainly not an easy market. Although that being said, the market is still there – the difficult bit is determining how to make it work for you.

Jacob says:

Anyone have experience with SmugMug? I just created an account there, and it seems to be very useful.

If you want an account at SmugMug, you can use coupon code: RkrZSXbgd1k1s to get a discount.

Tom says:

Hey Chase, how about please mentioning that they gave their “Valued” clients 24 hours to pull their stuff off of the servers? The bottle neck alone will prevent a number of clients from doing this.

Tastre says:

Good point about the nature of capitalism, Chase. We must stay honest and original.

Kjrstin says:

Hey Chase,

Wondering what your opinion on ImageSpan’s License Stream program? The descriptions make it seem like a good deal for those of us that don’t want to sell our souls to Getty or Corbis, especially in light of DRR and Photoshelter closing shop.

Just curious of your opinions/thoughts, thanks.

Anonymous says:

Another one bites the dust.

NomadRip says:

I just got this on Twitter, FWIW:

SmugMug Digital Railroad gone http://www.digitalrailroad…. any photographers caught by this, email us we can help! about 1 hour ago from web

Andrew Ptak says:

Strike two for the good guys.

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