Exec Says Kodak Planned To Shrink Your Photos While Saying It Was An Improvement

from the corporate-doublespeak dept

A former Kodak exec is now suing the company, claiming she was fired for opposing a cost-saving plan at the company. The interesting part isn’t the lawsuit… but the plan. Apparently, in order to “save money” the company planned to compress all the digital photos it stored, thereby reducing its storage needs (and we thought storage was supposed to be cheap these days!). That’s annoying enough for anyone who trusted Kodak to keep their original images in the same shape they were uploaded. However, Kodak is accused of going even further, by planning to tell users that, rather than being compressed, their photos were being “optimized,” — implying that the process somehow “improved” the photos. This was justified by the wonderful explanation: it didn’t matter because customers “wouldn’t understand, anyway.” Kodak is denying the whole accusation, and it’s not entirely clear how this is a wrongful termination. It’s not necessarily a case of whistle-blowing, since that appears to have happened after the termination. Either way, would be nice to hear a more complete response from Kodak.

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Comments on “Exec Says Kodak Planned To Shrink Your Photos While Saying It Was An Improvement”

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Fortune500drone (user link) says:

storage is cheap these days?

Yes, “storage” is cheap, but enterprise storage with reliable off-site backups is expensive.

Check out the price for a consumer 160GB SATA desktop drive, then look at something like a 147GB FC-AL drive.

Next, check out the MTBF, duty cycle, and warranty for each of those drives.

No, storage isn’t cheap.

discojohnson says:

Re: storage is cheap these days?

i concur. for our enterprise we back up about 3 TB daily which is on a 30 day retention policy for 90%, 180 day for the last 10. yeah it’s on tape, but it’s still ~$1.2mil to replace the 30 day set. then there’s the SAN…for relatively unreliable desktop hdds, storage is hella cheap. for an enterprise solution with a good redundancy policy, out the nose.

elCO says:

Re: A related idea

Well, to tell the truth, telcos do compress your voice (encoding only the information needed for recognition and leaving out the fine details). It’s done mostly in mobile networks at the air interface, where bandwidth is simply *precious*.

As for “optimizing”, they are actually doing that. The only thing they forgot to mention is that what they’re optimizing is *their* storage costs.

lyn says:

storage is cheap / my time is not so cheap either

If I were to trust Kodak to retain my image and store it,

I expect it to be exactly as the same as what I uploaded.

If they were to tell me this upfront I would understand and probably would not use the service.

To “optimize” my image and conceal it this way is just plain wrong. I planned time, went to a location, possibly even hired an asst. to help with a shoot and they are going to optimize my image. I dont think so.

I know this is geared towards the passing consumer and not professional photographers but the analogy still hold true of anyone taking pictures.

If you cant uphold some modicum of respect and service ideal then don’t offer it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: storage is cheap / my time is not so cheap

Professional photographers started using Kodak EasyShare around the same time professional web designers started using GeoCities, I presume?>>

“I know this is geared towards the passing consumer and not professional photographers but the analogy still hold true of anyone taking pictures.”

read the rest of the post before picking on one part of it. he covered the idea that its not really for professionals. he basically already countered your point before you even said it.

ad (user link) says:


I don’t see any problem with the word ‘optimizated’. That is a standard word used for images that are compressed for the web, they really are called ‘optimized’. Doesn’t sound that devious to me.

I also wonder what percentage of kodak users would actually be able to tell the difference between a print from an ‘optimized’ jpeg or the original.

thecaptain says:

Re: Definitions of Optimize

Wow, the Kodak astroturfers are out in force, either that or the general population as a whole got a whole lot dumber.

Yes, I suppose in a tenuous, PEDANTIC way, “optimized” CAN be considered to be the “correct” term, IF you’re referring to ONLY file size.

That’s Kodak’s LEGAL defence, if they get sued.

However, if you see an ad (and I bet there would have been, or maybe there already ARE a few) with the word “Optimized” in reference to YOUR uploaded photos…you aren’t thinking they compressed them and downgraded the quality are you?

Likely there might be a small star next to the word “Optimized” leading to some VERY small (4pt font) text outlining what it meant in vague terms…to cover their legal asses…um assets.

In other words, perfectly legal, TOTALLY unethical and VERY scummy.

I personally know quite a few photographers, professional and hobbyists who would stop dealing with Kodak over an issue like this.

mudgy says:

Image optimization

Look… the usage of the term “optimization” as it relates to images referred to the practice of web developers encoding their images in such a way as to have the smallest file size for delivery online.

I think it is used inapproprately by Kodak. They are using the term to mean re-encoding your images in such a way as to have the smallest file size for storage on their system.

ccc says:

For those of you arguing that “optimized” is ok because techies use the phrase, I call BS.

Kodak is NOT aiming this service at techies, techies wouldn’t USE it. It’s a CONSUMER service.

Furthermore, optimized only meant reducing the quality and therefore size of an image in one context – reducing the resources needed to transmit it over 56k modems, and to save space on your 1.2mb floppies.

Optimized only makes sense in the context of who is seeing the benefit. In the examples I mentioned, the consumer (webmaster, etc.) saw the benefit. In this case, the consumer is being told it’s being optimized, but from their perspective, they gain no benefit.

By that logic, Kodak could have told you they were “optimizing” the film photos you sent them for processing by using inferior and cheaper chemicals – resulting in a poorer image, but “optimizing” their profit margin.

Might as well allow companies to emblazon “New & Improved!” on their cereal boxes after reducing the quality of the ingredients, because they have improved thier bottom line.

Dude@Home says:

Compression Type

That’s the question then, isn’t it. Was the compression Kodak used lossy or lossless. A lossless compression has no effect on the end user where as a lossy compression will lower the quality of the image. It doesn’t matter that their customer’s are printing on printers that won’t print the images noticably different and it doesn’t matter that most of their customer’s are probably using 2-3 mega pixel cameras. It the principle of the matter. If Kodak is charging for this service then they have a responsibility to their customers. If this is was a free service (like HP’s Snap Fish) then as far as the customer is concerned, you get what you paid for. As a side note, I know nothing about Kodaks service and so do not know if their service is free or charge based. As far as my own pictures are concerned, I’d just put up a web page with them and send the URL to people. Chow.

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