Thursday, April 30, 2009

Open Letter to the Photography Community about C-Registry

A small handful of individuals have been spreading misinformation about C-Registry since March. In many cases, this misinformation has been outrageously false. We have decided to distribute an open letter to the photo community to put these ridiculous allegations to rest. In this way, we can return to focusing on our core mission of helping photographers and other creators to be found and contacted from uncredited copies of their creative works online. (Read our Open Letter to the Photo Community in comments)

1 comment:

  1. Open Letter to the Photography Community about C-Registry,

    This open letter to photographers and the photography community corrects misinformation in distribution about C-Registry and is intended to foster public dialog about copyright.

    C-Registry acknowledges that some wording was unfortunate in earlier phases of our beta website. To clarify some points, we do not claim the Orphan Works Act has become law. We don’t claim to be the first registry, nor do we claim that we inform photographers of all possible online uses of their creative works. We continue to improve our terms and conditions as suggested by trade associations and proponents of copyright in ways that further protect photographers.

    (In referring to “photographers”, we include by inference the broadest definition of other creator types since C-Registry also applies to art, illustrations, music, video, mashups and other creative works.)

    The following clarifies the policies, intent and functionality of C-Registry:

    ---------- Background, Purpose and Vision of C-Registry ----------
    C-Registry is an Internet-only service that is owned by, Inc.. C-Registry is a commercial service and is not affiliated with the U.S. Copyright Office. For marketing purposes, it uses the trademarks “The Copyright Registry”, “Lost and Found” and “C-Tools”. Its beta website is located at
    The Copyright RegistryC-Registry was created specifically to anticipate and address key elements of the 2008 House of Representatives Bill HR5889 (known as the “Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008”) and Senate Bill S2913 (which passed the Senate and is known as the ‘‘Orphan Works Act of 2008’’). These and other versions that were introduced in preceding years are commonly known as the “Orphan Works Act”.

    Registries have long existed in many forms. C-Registry differentiates itself withtechnology-driven solutions that address the anticipated requirements of possible orphan works legislation in various countries. C-Registry was created specifically to reduce the risk to rightsholders of orphan works and related legislation.

    The core services of C-Registry use existing and emerging copyright laws to help find rightsholders from uncredited creative works online, to provide licensing inquiries to rightsholders, and to create revenue streams for rightsholders. C-Registry is not a stock photo agency and will not become a stock photo agency. C-Registry provides fee-based services described in this letter. For all services, photographers may opt to participate or not at their discretion.

    ---------- Protections For Photographers ----------
    In its technology, business model and Terms of Service, C-Registry has built-in the following protections for photographers and for copyright itself:

    No Search Of Orphaned Works
    C-Registry does not and will not enable search of “orphaned” works. The starting point for using C-Registry is to first have the image or to be at a website that has an image file (or other creative work) for which a user or client wants to find or contact the rightsholder who is likely unknown at that site.

    Access, Not Use
    In C-Registry, photographers are granting rights to access their images in digital form via a web browser or similar, not for users to use, modify or copy their images, except when applying a copyright notice.
    ( See more contract info at What rights do photographers grant C-Registry? and at Terms and Conditions )

    Functions Await Law
    Some functions of C-Registry’s beta website that are designed to adhere to requirements of the Orphan Works Act if it passes, such as certain reports, are not available for public access until they are needed by law.

    No Uploads
    By eliminating image uploads, C-Registry enables a scalable solution that has no risk for photographers beyond what currently exists for images that are already online.

    ---------- Services and Fees ----------
    C-Registry provides two core services for free:

    1) Finding Photographers from their Images Online
    C-Registry enables users to find and contact photographers from copies of their images at any website, in any language, provided that A) the image either contains appropriate IPTC/File Info OR the rightsholder has registered that specific image in the database, and B) the website using the image is not hiding access to files at that site.

    2) Finding Online Uses of Images
    C-Registry documents online image use, including the URL of the website of use, the URL where the image is stored, and the date range in which each image is discovered at those URLs.

    Although core services are free, C-Registry charges or intends to charge fees for the following optional services:

    Photographer Verification & Bulk Functionality
    For identity verification and upgraded services (such as bulk data import, file locking for professional photographers and their agents, and image recognition functions), there is a recurring, annual fee of $25 that can be waived for members of trade associations that support copyright.

    Report Certification
    For report tracking and verification (such as the date range of use at a specific URL that might be used by a trademark attorney, or for DMCA Take Down orders), we anticipate the fee will start at $30 per report when this service becomes available.

    For site advertising (such as banner ads), these fees will be based on market rates for equivalent advertising elsewhere.

    Facilitation of Copyright Registration with the U.S. Copyright Office
    For use of the streamlined process that facilitates registration of images with the U.S. Copyright Office, fees will be determined upon completion of that function.

    Time Dedicated for Providing Testimony
    For time dedicated to provide legal testimony (such as expert witness in a court preceding as it relates to disputes within the C-Registry database or reports), fees are variable.

    ( See more info on fees at Where will the revenue come from? )

    ---------- Technology ----------
    C-Registry uses the following methods for enabling users to identify rightsholders from their images online, for identifying online usages of registered works, and for enabling photographers to add copyright notice to their photographs:

    Finding Photographers from their Images Online
    Each image online is the starting point for finding its owner, even if the owner is unknown at that website. Any user or client can click the C-Tools bookmark to find the owner of images on that page, provided the rightsholder has claimed ownership to that image in the C-Registry database. Every image on the Internet is instantly associated with its owner if any copy has been claimed by the owner in the C-Registry database. Photographers and their authorized agent can be found from images at any website, in any language, assuming that site is not blocking the technology. The ability to find owners from images at any website does not dependon spidering, Veripixel nor image recognition.

    Finding Online Uses of Images
    Images found by spidering or user actions are matched with the unique ID of identical files found elsewhere. For each image, photographers can view a list of URLs of known uses at other websites. Unlike finding the photographer from the image which is global and instantaneous, this free service requires an ever-expanding database of file locations online.

    New Copyright Notice – “Veripixel™”
    C-Registry provides photographers a new form of copyright notice called Veripixel™. This is similar to putting “© John Doe” into the IPTC/File Info or affixing a text notice adjacent to an image, except that this new form of copyright notice is visible in the image itself. This can add a new layer of defense for photographers since it can be a violation of copyright law to remove a copyright notice. This copyright notice is discrete, appearing as a series of colored pixels in a predictable location (the upper left corner). Each copyright notice is derived from a unique ID for that image, which can be almost limitless (16 million to the sixth power). Veripixel™ is optional and is not required for successful functioning of any aspect of C-Registry.

    PLUS Compliance
    C-Registry will be PLUS Compliant and will work closely with PLUS to build on its pre-existing relationship. (StockPhotoFinder invented the numbering system for and orchestrated assembly of the PLUS Media Summary Code.)

    Image Links to U.S. Copyright Registration
    Photographers can optionally enter their official U.S. Copyright Registration Number, which enables users and clients to see both the image and the text record at the U.S. Copyright Office website side-by-side.

    Ecommerce Link
    Photographers and their agents can optionally enter a URL link to any website or ecommerce process of their choosing to facilitate direct licensing on a per image basis. (ie, PhotoShelter, GettyImages, Alamy, a personal website, etc.)

    Exact Match
    C-Registry uses exact match to connect images and their owners. Exact match is essential since some aspects of copyright ownership claims and image use will need to be verifiable in a court of law.
    ( See more tech info at How does the technology spider and track infringing images on the web? )

    Image Recognition
    Whereas exact match is required for legal reasons, image recognition is provided by C-Registry as a nice convenience for photographers. Image Recognition is not necessary for successful functioning of C-Registry’s core services.

    If a photographer has populated the IPTC/File Info of their image, that copyright information will be automatically extracted from the file and displayed whether or not the image has been claimed in the C-Registry database. IPTC is not required for successful functioning of any aspect of C-Registry.

    Retrospective Knowledge
    Because all users are registered and all actions are tracked, when a photographer reclaims an image in the C-Registry database, they gain access to view past inquiries by users about that image that occurred before the owner was known.

    ---------- Policies of C-Registry ----------
    It is the policy of C-Registry that:

    C-Registry Does Not Encourage Infringement.
    C-Registry does not and will not encourage, support nor in any way condone copyright infringement. The website clearly states, “Prior to using any and all images or other content whose ownership is checked in C-Registry, users must have a license for use from the rightsholder(s). C-Registry is not a licensing agency. Only the rightsholder or their appointed agent can issue a license for use of their creative works. Failure to obtain authorization from the appropriate rightsholder prior to use could be a copyright infringement that could be subject to statutory damages.”

    C-Registry Grants No Rights via Reports
    C-Registry does not sell any right to publish images via its reporting process. The website clearly states, “C-Registry Reports do not grant any rights of any kind to users or recipients. They state the status of information available in the C-Registry database at that moment in time in a way that each report is verifiable and trackable.”

    Reports Required by Law Will Not Be Available until that Law Passes
    Only if the Orphan Works Act passes, and if that law requires registries, and if it requires a report of a "reasonable" search, only then will C-Registry make that report available to fulfill the requirements of that law. Until the Orphan Works Act passes, C-Registry will not make available any services that were created for the sole purposes of addressing that law.

    Finding Photographers from Images Online is a Free Service
    C-Registry does not charge and will not charge for users and clients to find photographers from their images online. Users will not be required to pay to access the name and contact information of the rightsholder of images. And, photographers will not be required to pay to include the URLs to their images in the C-Registry database, nor to receive sales leads from potential clients who inquire about their images.

    Photographers Retain 100% of Revenues They Invoice
    Photographers may directly invoice users and clients based on information they discover in C-Registry and retain 100% of the resulting revenues they receive. C-Registry does not require fees for invoices by photographers.

    Privacy Rights of Photographers Are Protected
    C-Registry does not sell or abuse the private information of photographers or other users. Photographers can opt to not display their contact information and to block being contacted via C-Registry by entities they specify. C-Registry provides an option for double-blind communication to protect privacy if desired. ( Read the C-Registry Privacy Policy for full details. )

    The preceding reconfirms substantially all of the policies, intent and practical application of We welcome all suggestions that would benefit photographers and nurture copyright protection.

    Thank you.


    Randy Taylor, Inc. is a service of, Inc.