Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Crowd Sourcing Crowd Enforcing?

Crowd Sourcing Might Become Crowd Enforcing

A few days ago I had a very interesting conversation with Randy Taylor of The Copyright Registry. The Copyright Registry is a service to help photographers deal with the ramifications of passage of the Orphan Works Bill (should it pass). But the interesting thing to me, at least at this point, is a possible side benefit of their service, finding, and establishing a record of unauthorized use of images. Figures on copyright infringement on the Internet indicate the problem is truly staggering with upwards of 80% of photography usage being without permission.

The Copyright Registry makes it possible for anyone to find the copyright owner of any content, as long as the content has been entered into the registry. The Copyright Registry sends out spiders that use image recognition software to match photography on the Internet with the works identified in their registry. This process creates a record of where and for what time periods those works have been used. This information then becomes available to the owners of the work and can be used to ferret out unauthorized uses and help establish abuses for use in legal proceedings.

As you can imagine, The Copyright Registry isn’t the only registry out there, but they do have some unique approaches, and at $25.00 per year, they seem like a bargain. The efforts of The Copyright Registry and other such services just might turn the tide against the massive copyright infringement that we see on the web today. If it becomes simple and affordable for every photographer to protect their work, then crowd sourcing might not just be the origin of so much artwork, but also the ultimate safeguard of that artwork.

Some salient points about The Copyright Registry that Randy shared with me:

-Users can find the owners from copies of their
images, including the uncredited, altered,
unattributed, stolen ones. It's all about
enabling users to find image owners.

- No pictures are uploaded or stored. It's all
done with text, which can be a simple database
export with hundreds of thousands of records at a
time. Very easy and efficient.

- Though we created this to counter the effects
of Orphan Works legislation that is progressing
worldwide, it has real-world benefits right now,
today, while statutory damages still apply.

- The cost is $25/year to register unlimited
images - a price set to attract semi-pro
photographers. Photo agencies get a huge benefit
from that ultra-low price point.

- Though it seems too good to be true, there is
no risk, no downside. Rights granted are less
than those granted in click wrap agreements with
major search engines. No images are exposed
beyond their current web exposure. Rights holders
are merely enabling people to find them from
copies of their images.

Check them out for your self:

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