Celebrity Babylon, a new “Internet magazine” created by Sunset Photo and News, was supposed to have an official launch at the start of the new year. With a press release and planned interviews and all that neat stuff.
But founder Jill Ishkanian realized right quick that that wasn’t going to work when she started getting calls from blogs like, oh, FBLA.
“I should know better than try to take control the of the media,” said Ishkanian, the former Us Weekly staffer and FBI subject told FBLA.
The idea behind Celebrity Babylon is sheer brilliance: Bloggers constantly steal Sunset Photo and News’s celebrity pics — why not beat them to the punch by publishing those shots online?
“I know there are agencies — they’re calling themselves the Magnificent 7, saying they’re going to shut down these bloggers — you’re not going to shut them down. It’s the Wild West,” she said. “I’m fine as long as they’re crediting us and we can profit from our own photos.”
Celebrity Babylon has not yet officially launched, but the site has gotten about 2 million hits a day since it went up on Dec. 9, Ishkanian said.
Unlike on other sites, Celebrity Babylon’s photos are not watermarked, not traceable.
“Kids don’t want watermarks on the pictures so they can’t see if Catherine Zeta Jones is looking old,” she said.
Instead, one staffer polices photo theft online. And so far, they’ve found that — stolen or not — reprinted photos bring in big bucks.
“We’re selling more pictures than ever. You think it would hurt business, but it almost increases the value,” Ishkanian said. “We were the first with photos of Mary-Kate Olsen’s new blond hairdo. That was bled out to Perez Hilton first. Perez got 700 comments on that picture, and yet it’s the cover of Star Magazine, the cover of In Touch. It’s almost like we’re the focus group.”