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Updated: Photo industry sanctions Russia

Photo industry companies are ‘self sanctioning’ Russia over the Ukraine invasion, with heavyweights like Canon and Adobe suspending all new Russian sales, while others are donating to humanitarian efforts.

Not only are governments imposing sanctions on Russia, but many companies with Russian-based operations are also rallying together following suit to condemn the invasion.

Major global corporations like Apple, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, oil companies, car companies and McDonald’s have voluntarily reduced or ceased operations in Russia. In terms of photo industry companies Canon, Adobe and Peak Design have terminated all sales in direct response to the invasion, Panasonic also pulled out citing ‘logistical’ issues, and brands like Fujifilm and Sony are donating millions to Ukrainian humanitarian causes.

To borrow a word recently ruined by the Covid-19 pandemic, these are ‘unprecedented’ measures taken by companies.

Updated 17/3/2022: Inside Imaging has added Dreamstime to the article.

Adobe

Adobe’s self sactioning will likely have the largest impact on Russians, as the cloud-based software and sales platform has a monopoly on publishing and design software.

Citing the ‘unprovoked, violent attacks on Ukraine and the tragic loss of innocent lives’, Adobe ‘believes we have a responsibility to ensure our products and services are not used in support of this unlawful war’.

Adobe has put a halt on all new sales of products and services in Russia, and Russian government-controlled media outlets have had their access to the Creative Cloud terminated.

‘We have been complying with the government sanctions being imposed by the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom to ensure Adobe’s products and services are not being used by prohibited entities.’

The halt on new sales suggests that existing Adobe Creative Cloud Subscribers in Russia can still access the software and work stored on the cloud. This will be a relief to a huge number of Russian-based graphic designers, photographers, and creatives who rely on Adobe software.

Considering how easily Adobe can flick the switch on businesses by terminating access to software and cloud storage, Russian creatives may be thinking twice about the Creative Cloud subscription model.

In photo stock forums, Inside Imaging observed Russian Adobe Stock contributors discussing about the freezing of payments. Although it’s unclear whether this was by Adobe, or due to sanctions on Russian-based banks and international payment systems.

The Adobe Foundation also announced a series of grants worth over US$1 million with ‘focus on direct aid and medical assistance to communities in Ukraine, as well as resettlement and transportation needs for families fleeing the country and seeking resettlement status as refugees in neighbouring countries’.

We understand there is only so much one company can do to impact an unjustified invasion. But we also understand our civic and moral responsibility to support democracy and humanity. We are committed to doing everything we can to stand in support of those directly affected and with our entire Adobe community.

Canon

Canon Europe issued a short statement flagging the suspension of product deliveries to Russia, with the company standing ‘united in desire for peace’.

‘The violence and destruction being caused by the military attacks on Ukraine is shocking to all of us. We share our heartfelt concerns for our colleagues and the Ukrainian people whose lives have been deeply affected.’

Canon Europe is also donating an unspecified amount to ‘donating to international aid and humanitarian organisations in Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Moldova, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia’.

Panasonic

Panasonic’s imaging department only accounts for a small portion of its operations. However, the company has, according to Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei, ‘suspended virtually all business transactions with Russia following the invasion of Ukraine’.

While the company is ‘very concerned’ about the Ukraine conflict, the suspension is due to ‘economic, logistical and other practical challenges’.

Panasonic doesn’t own factories within Russia, and products are supplies externally. With pre-existing supply chain issues, coupled with emerging Russian logistical issues, it makes sense for the company to pull out of the country.

Panasonic’s Russian distribution subsidiary will maintain normal operations with whatever short term inventory remains on hand, with electronics continued to be sold in store until it runs out. The company halted operations at the Ukrainian distributor ship, with the unit’s Japanese employees evacuating the country.

Peak Design

US-based camera bag manufacturer, Peak Design, issued an e-mail newsletter with CEO Peter Dering outlining three iniatives the company is taking.

Firstly, all sales to Russia via website and wholesale distribution has been ceased.

‘Our third party European warehouse has ceased shipping product to Russia, a move which we did not instigate but falls in line with our decision,’ Dering said. ‘It was a tough decision that immediately affects our Russian customers and partners. But we think all responsible businesses should exert pressure wherever possible to condemn Putin’s unhinged campaign of violence. Our expertise is product design, not geopolitics, but we believe that businesses should embrace the urge to help and speak up in whatever capacity that they can.’

Secondly, all returned bags in Europe will be donated to refugees arriving in Poland. ‘Our Polish distributor is helping to coordinate this effort. Our hope is that these gently used bags prove useful for those who have had to flee their homes and homeland’.

Thirdly, photojournalists on the ground in the Ukraine, have free access to Peak Design gear although logistics are ‘very difficult at a time’. Contact: ukrainesupport@peakdesign.com

Fujifilm

Fujifilm HQ announced a donation with the value of US$2 million to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. A donation of US$1 million in cash will go to UNHCR and UNICEF. Additionally, Fujifilm medical equipment worth US$1 million, including its portable X-ray system and ultrasound devices, will go to organisations supporting the affected Ukraine population.

‘Fujifilm Holdings and its group companies long for a peaceful world and safe, healthy communities, and do not condone, under any circumstances, aggression, violence, or war,’ wrote Fujifilm president and CEO, Teiichi Goto, in a statement.

Sony

Like Panasonic, Sony’s imaging division only makes up a small portion of its operations. It has announced donations totalling US$2 million to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the international NGO, and Save the Children. Sony Group companies will also collect and match donations from employees.

Dreamstime

US-based royalty-free microstock agency, Dreamstime, has stopped selling to buyers from Russia. Additionally, contributing photographers and artists in Ukraine are awarded 100 percent royalties for all their downloads, and buyers can make a direct donation to the Ukrainian contributors as well. From February 25, Dreamstime is donating five percent of sales to the youth movement Let’s Do It Ukraine, which has been organising humanitarian projects.

Lastly, non-profit organisations needing visuals to ‘deliver their messages in support of Ukrainian causes’ are given a free subscription.

It’s possible more photo industry self sanctioning will take place. And with sanctions impacting international payment systems, some companies like Panasonic may find there are too many logistical and economic hurdles to continue operations.

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