Corbis Acquires Celeb Photo Distributor Splash News

Despite all the hand-wringing about tabloids and invasion of privacy resulting from the News of The World phone hacking scandal, gossip sheets have an insatiable appetite for candid photos of celebrities — and they will continue to pay high prices to get them. In an effort to satisfy that need — and keep pace with the competition who are racing to do the same — photo service Corbis Images is acquiring celeb photo site Splash News.

The deal, terms of which were not revealed, follows two acquisitions this spring by rival photo agency Getty Images, which bought stock images service Photolibrary and digital rights management company PicScout.

The Los Angeles-based Splash News bills itself as a provider of “candid celebrity photography and video content to the world’s premiere entertainment print, online and broadcast media outlets.” The company was founded about 12 years ago and currently has a roster of than 3,000 active photographers worldwide in entertainment hubs throughout North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. Splash’s footage is intended to complement Corbis’ more refined collection of exclusive portraiture, red carpet and archival entertainment content.

The site claims to have been able to capture some of the most infamous celebrity images of the past few years, including the first images of Michael Jackson’s first child, Anna Nicole Smith’s death in 2007 and Tiger Woods’ mistress in 2009.

“Splash photographers consistently capture the most significant celebrity stories around the globe, ahead of the competition,” said Corbis CEO Gary Shenk, in a statement, adding that it will be a nice addition to what the agency’s global sales force can sell.