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Softbank: Pictures are Worth More than Words

The publishing arm of Asian powerhouse Softbank Corp. Wednesday signed an agreement with digital image firm Getty Images, Inc. to distribute Getty's arsenal of images to Japanese customers.

Getty Images Kabushiki Kaisha will be an exclusive distribution outlet in Japan for digital imagery, run by Getty and Softbank Publishing Inc. The new company will distribute digital imagery and related products to publishers and other image consumers in Japan.

Getty Images will offer images from its collections, including Tony Stone Images, PhotoDisc, EyeWire and Art.com, with additional collections to be added in the future. Softbank will tap into its Japanese customer base and corporate partners, which include Yahoo Japan Corp., CarPoint K.K., E*Trade Japan Securities, Inc., Morningstar Japan K.K., GeoCities Japan Corp. and ZDNet Japan.

The company is set to open in the first half of 2000.

"This joint venture with Softbank furthers our goal of using technology to change how creative professionals access and purchase imagery and related products, and dramatically enhances our ability to serve the burgeoning Asia Pacific market for digital content," said Mark Getty, co-founder and executive chairman of Getty Images.

"We intend to continue to expand our business interests, not only through acquisition, but also through strategic investments and partnerships such as this one. SOFTBANK is an ideal partner for us in this new venture because of its wide ranging technology and publishing businesses and strong distribution in the Japanese market."

Getty was ranked as the company with the largest image collection until June, when Microsoft-owned Corbis purchased UK-based Sygma.