The stock photography industry and its ecosystem has changed constantly and dramatically in the past years, both in image creation and clients’ approach to licensing images.  Thanks to digital cameras, the internet and our favorite keyboard actions ‘copy & paste’, a whole new crime scene has risen: unauthorized digital image use, or image piracy.

While adapting to market demands, age fotostock is very much aware of the illegal use of images online and we are trying to protect both our photographers rights and the respectful use of images worldwide. With this at heart, we have recently contracted the services of Picscout to help us find unauthorized or non-legitimate uses of our photographers images online.  We are able to do this with images submitted by our exclusive photographers only, as we have secure knowledge about their sales history in our records.

PicScout Tracker EtE offers a service that crawls commercial web sites looking for visual matches to content.  The image matches that they find might be cropped, colorized, flipped or otherwise manipulated in any way.  Their crawler will still find them and does every day.  Once they mine the data, they create cases which age fotostock staff review to determine if it is a proper use (licensed) or an unauthorized use.  Once staff determine that it's unauthorized or "non-legit", the License Compliance Service team (LCS team) acts on our behalf to track down and collect penalty fees from these infringers, which age fotostock then pays back to our photographers.

Since beginning to crawl for our exclusive images in the USA last month, Picscout have already found hundreds of potential instances of infringement.

It’s a really interesting process for staff here. Very few of the cases Picscout are finding are actually valid licenses. Most of the cases have been found in the murky depths of low budget web trash. Some are only low res thumbnail size. Some look like illegitimate reuses – 5 years later and our images are still online, although we haven’t had a report since 2009. Other cases appear to be more valid, with large clear images on a respectable website, yet we have no sales history for that image. What will be fascinating is discovering exactly how these companies obtained our images, which thieving tactics did they apply?! All will be revealed in the next few months as we follow the cases through. Stay tuned for the next blog…


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If you don’t know the answer to the above question, you aren’t alone.  In today’s potpourri of “users,” amateurs, and professional photographers, many people shoot, submit, and upload photos, and then see an RF, RM, or LBRF appear on the photo. But what are they?  Rights Managed (RM), Royalty Free (RF), and Low Budget Royalty Free (LBRF) are license types. What’s the “best” license?  We will talk about the three license types during the next few weeks.  If you understand the licenses, you can direct your product, the photo, for greater success.

Let´s start with RM

Did you know Rights Managed (RM) photographs are licensed for a specific use in a concrete geographical area and for a set amount of time?  There is a control of the use of the image, and that’s why they are called rights managed.

Why Clients ♥ RM…

Clients choose RM for the great variety of subjects available, including specialized subjects such as medicine, technology, and science.  In RM, these specialized subjects are usually documented thoroughly. 

RM prices are negotiable and adjust for the scope of a project.  “Negotiable” in these days means that a client can ask for a lot… And sometimes get it.

RM allows a client to purchase exclusive rights for the use of an image, important for an advertiser who wants to stand out from the competition.


Why Clients don’t ♥ RM…

Images with a wide distribution, multiple uses, or exclusivity can be expensive.

Clients have to renew the image license to continue using the image after the initial term is up.  This entails a certain administrative effort.

Many RM images have no model or property release so they can’t be safely used for advertising uses.  What a pity!


What photographers should know about RM.

  1. Standout creative or original images can be valued accordingly in RM.  This is for photographers who create images rather than merely describe places.

  2. If you have nonexclusive images in multiple stock agencies, make sure that you can block an image fast when an agency mentions 10 grand for an exclusive possibility…  Also be sure that your agency can get in contact with you.  If you are off shooting in the Congo, an assistant or trusted other should be checking your business email.

  3. Photographs of specialized subjects will probably find more potential buyers and the chance of a well-paid exclusive sale in RM. Clients look for well described images, with complete, accurate captions so you should be knowledgeable about the material that you submit and provide all relevant information. 

  4. If you have unreleased images of people, artwork, protected buildings, or copyrighted/trademarked material, RM is the safest place to distribute those images because your agency will help screen out improper uses, can quickly remove the image from market, and can produce the sales history if needed.  However, please note, some images aren’t even safe in RM!  See more legal info.

  5. If it is at all possible, you should always get a model release signed.  Even you travel photographers!  Here you can find a simple pocket release for street photos and our standard model release.  Use the standard release when possible.


Here are some images which represent the spirit of RM.  Stay tuned to get up close and personal with the Lovely RF in the coming weeks…


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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

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