Sunday, May 31, 2009

Image Recognition, Bulk Uploads, Magazine Launch

Here's a treat for readers of our blog ... a sneak peak at the week to come. I leave soon for Dresden, Germany, where I am a speaker at two seminars at the annual CEPIC Congress & Conference:

- "Know Your Rights - How To Cope With Image Rights" - The MILE Project focuses on two key metadata issues (image piracy and the practical application of copyright metadata), trying to improve the security of digital images online by showcasing and discussing potential solutions to image piracy with technological developments such as digital watermarking and image tracking.

- "Orphan Works in Practice - Registries, databases, collecting societies: What to do to protect your work?" This seminar focuses on rightsholder solutions to global orphan works legislative initiatives.

Two of our big announcements this year will be the addition of image recognition and bulk uploads.

Currently, a user can find and contact the rightsholder from any copy of their work at any website in any language if the image is registered in the C-Registry database. By adding image recognition, our process will now suggest ownership of images that are nearly identical if no exact match can be found. (It's actually "pattern recognition" for things like music, but everyone calls it image recognition).

And, we've added a simple bulk upload process. So, rightsholders that have large quantities of images accessible online, like stock photo agencies, can now export their database as URLs to the images with an ultra-simple upload process (comma-separated data). There is a file size limit of about a million records per text upload. Manual uploads via the web interface are immediate. URLs are processed via automation within days, sometimes hours. (No 18-month waits here for results).

What does this mean? The combination of bulk uploads and "similars search" means it will be virtually impossible to not find the owner or agent of any stock photo online anywhere in the world. A "reasonable search" will turn up a rightsholder or authorized agent from any uncredited or unauthorized stock photo on the web for everyone who adds their URLs to The Copyright Registry. Virtually every image in the stock photo industry can be covered with minimal effort. If an exact match of the file isn't found, C-Registry's unique process will suggest the owner of the closest variation, which is most likely the same image sequence or cropped variation found at a subagent.

This functionality is part of the authentication upgrade, which costs $25 per year for unlimited uploads.

But wait, that's not all. We're also launching a magazine! Creators Circle Magazine is dedicated to copyright, online infringement and orphan works issues. Despite the fact that over 1,000 magazines have ceased publication in the U.S. in the last two years, we felt a compelling need for an organized source of credible information on these critical topics. Issue One covers a range of great stories and new information for the industry. It's available as a glossy, 32 page print version for about $6.40 plus shipping (USA/Canada/Great Britain), and as a free 72 dpi PDF. Watch for it and future issues at

While a lot of work remains for the creative community in its ongoing efforts to educate and affect the industry about the solutions that are becoming available, the pendulum is beginning to swing back in favor of creators and rightsholders, especially photographers.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Copyright Debate at The Economist

There is an interesting public debate on the value of copyright at The first of multiple days starts at
go to Copyright and Wrongs Debate

I contributed the following to the discussion, leading with an little-spoken benefit of copyright that is intended to resonate with the readership of The Economist, as follows:

1) Copyright democratizes access to creative works (ironically). If all content were free, who would pay to enable access? In yesteryear, only the rich could travel to Paris to see the Mona Lisa. In today's digital age, copyright enables access by the multitudes by enabling the cost of access to be divided to the fullest extent amongst the broadest potential audience, which minimizes the price per view. With copyright, each rightsholder can decide whether to minimize price by dividing the cost of access by many viewers (as a library or museum does) or to profit adequately to enable creating new works (as a photographer, artist or movie studio does). Whether printing a newspaper or providing digitization and bandwidth for a website, access has a cost that must be paid by someone. Monetizing copyright actually broadens access. (I note that the role of search engines is primarily to organize that which is already accessible.)

2) Laws tend to protect the weaker party. Rightly so. "Copyright upon creation" is necessary to protect the creative works of the many and of the one. How else would society protect the drawings of a child, personal photos posted to a blog, or the music of a garage band? Absent the protection of copyright, the intellectual, cultural and financial wealth of generations - individually and collectively - could be forfeit in the interest of expediency.

And, 3) Contrary to Professor Fisher's original assumptions, the technology and business model already exist today for a comprehensive national and global registry that could ascertain the owners of copyrighted works at any website in any language. The awareness of and the education and will to use this system have not yet caught up to the technological capability.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Video Tutorials Begin at C-Registry

We've begun adding video tutorials. The first two in the series explain why it's important for photographers and stock photo agencies to limit the impact of uncredited and unauthorized web use of images, which is sometimes incorrectly referred to as "orphaned works", and how C-Registry globally addresses this problem.

Help for Photographers on Orphan Works Problem

Help for Stock Photo Agencies on Orphan Works

Photographer "How To" video:

Also, watch for question mark icons at C-Registry. Each will link to a short video help segment for that web page or function.