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…