Digital Photos Hit Personalized Postage

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*April 29, 2005 *– Photographers have yet another way to publish and share their work. Beginning May 17, consumers can upload their digital photographs into an online database on photostamps.com and purchase customized postage. Now U.S. users can send everything from postcards to Priority Mail with personalized wedding, baby, graduation, or birthday pictures.

The U.S. Postal Service authorized photostamps.com as a vendor to sell its customized postage. Users must create a username and password and agree to a lengthy list of demands to use the site. Copywrited images cannot be printed, as well as images of celebrities, politicians, criminals, and otherwise newsworthy individuals. Anything otherwise scandalous cannot be printed.

The company will be on the lookout for such images after a little breach last year. The U.S. Postal Service authorized photostamps.com to run a pilot test in 2004. It lasted only seven weeks, due in part to a few unauthorized images that made it through the screening process. The Smoking Gun, a web site owned by Courtroom Television Network, tried the system last fall and printed several sheets of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and Monica Lewinski’s famous blue dress.

Despite this, the Postal Service is willing to try, try again. Photostamps.com has been authorized to sell its customized postage until May 2006 for personal use only. The web site sells a sheet of ten 37-cent stamps for $16.99, rather than the standard rate of $7.40 at the post office. The stamps are printed with the customer’s image and a secure bar code that allows the mail to be processed. The personalized postage is one way the postal service is looking to get customers excited about sending mail.

"We’re combining the trust people have in the Postal Service with the technology and efficiencies of the private sector to bring customized postage to our customers," said Nicholas Barranca, Vice President of Product Development. "Customized postage allows us to make mail more valuable and more meaningful to people."

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