The End of Digital Railroad(?) and What This Means to You

I am honestly shocked at the rapid pace at which things have unfurled on the Digital Railroad front. We have been trying to assist hundreds of photographers since DRR notified their customers that they would be shutting down within 24 hours. From what we understand there is a single FTP server that is handling all outbound requests, and it is under heavy load. People are literally waiting for hours to transfer their files. But you should keep trying.

Here is what we know.

Digital Railroad was taken over by a liquidation firm a few weeks ago. The liquidation firm’s goal is to find a buyer or liquidate the company. It is not in their best interest to drag the process out because the company simply incurs more debt, and it makes it increasingly more difficult to unwind the company. For example, if you keep the company up and running another month, but don’t pay the server hosting bill, then the server company might refuse to give you your hardware until you pay the bill (that is one less asset to liquidate). Then there is the possibility that they sue you for unpaid bills, etc, etc.

The staff of DRR that you probably know has no control of the company. You might be inclined to point a finger at them, but insofar as the events of the past 2 weeks are concerned, the staff had no ability to alter the outcome after the liquidation company came on board. Was there prior mismanagement that led to this outcome? We have no purview into the inner workings of the company. I will say that the economy has adversely affected the way that entrepreneurships operate. Deals that might have existed 6 weeks ago, could have evaporated 5 weeks ago. I’m certainly not defending the outcome, but I do know that there are individuals at Digital Railroad who are personally very concerned with the welfare of their customers, and it’s beyond their reach to help them at this point.

Many people have let us know that they recently renewed their accounts with DRR, or made a sale through their Marketplace. It is very unlikely that you will be able to recover anything from Digital Railroad. When a company undergoes liquidation, there is an order of preference to the liquidation proceeds. Customers happen to rank very near the bottom of that preference list. You will likely have no recourse.

On October 21, we extended a special offer to DRR customers, and since then we have been trying to migrate as many users and images as possible from that platform to the PhotoShelter Personal Archive. However, at this point, we are at the mercy of the liquidation firm. We are trying to see if we can negotiate a way for people to get their files off, but we have no sense right now as to whether it will actually end in a positive outcome.

Given the circumstances and the rapid introduction of PhotoShelter to so many photographers, we have decided to have an “open house” at our offices on Thursday to walk people through the product and give you an opportunity to meet our staff face to face.

PhotoShelter Open House
33 Union Square West
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10003
2pm – 7pm
THURSDAY 10/30/2008

We really hope for the best outcome for all the photographers affected by this event. We will do our very best to support the community through this turbulent time. We hope that you will consider the PhotoShelter Personal Archive moving forward.

UPDATE: As of 00:36 EST, DRR stopped allowing image transfers out of their system, instead transferring a small JPG that says “Image Unavailable.”

UPDATE 2: Around 1:30pm EST, FTP of images was restored. We are unsure how long this will be available.

Next Post:
Previous Post:
This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

There are 4 comments for this article
  1. Nathan at 1:45 am

    Would be phenomenal if Photoshelter bought out all their servers and migrated everyone’s files to PS. You could even provide the whole thing pro-bono to garner some terrific PR…

  2. Emil Herrera at 5:32 am

    Fortunately I received an e-mail from PS yesterday telling me the bad news and the need to migrate. An hour later, DRR made the announcement of shutting down! I am really surprised DRR didn’t warn its clients earlier. To migrate your material in 24hrs is madness! I have started the migration process and its going well, at least 75% of my images have been transfered to the PS servers. I just hope the rest will be finished by this evening. My only concern is, that on Oct 31st, my DRR archive is due for renewal and I am wondering if my card will be charged for this years billing. I have advised my credit card company about a possible payment requested by DRR that should not go through, but I am still awaiting the worst. What else can I do to avoid DRR taking my money and disappearing in the air? P.S. I agree with Nathan, buying out everything from DRR would be the smartest thing to do!

  3. Dom at 8:58 pm

    it would be great if my photos were able to be transferred by FTP. We have been trying for the last 24 hrs and all we get are errors and no transfer!! I wonder if there is a class action case for a lawsuit for fraud against the liquidator? DRR knew they were in liquidation weeks ago, but still took our annual fee and have failed to pass on fees for photos sold! Someone knew what they were doing and should be held accountable. At the very least, this is a classic example of misrepresentation. They failed to tell their suppliers (us photographers) that they were in trouble. We only found out about everything going wrong from PS yesterday. Crazy situation and very bad form, and possibly illegal! They have certainly created a lot of trouble and work for their suppliers and possibly clients (buyers) and have ripped off many people for fees (sales and subscriptions) with a very low likelihood of recovery. A class action would at least stand a more successful chance of recovering some of the losses and teach the liquidator to treat suppliers with more respect.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *