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:

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pianos, Passion and Stock Photography

I just finished shooting a piano. I found a small music shop that let me shoot a piano in their showroom…for $25.00. Now I am all excited. That was an awesome price, but it isn’t why I am excited. I am dying to get into my studio and start putting an image together. I shot a model, a businessman, standing and looking at his watch, a few weeks ago. Last week I photographed a tall building in downtown San Francisco as well as shooting a piece of rope with a frayed end in my studio. I have all the parts I need to create an image of a businessman, standing unaware, as a piano, trailing a broken rope, plunges down towards him. This is going to be great. The idea is little bit corny, a lot cliché, but is certainly one that will grab a viewer’s attention with humor and a clear message. The message is about risk and the need to be alert and aware. And I am fired up to complete it.

What is important about my excitement is that it is this excitement that makes me successful. It is my passion for creating my images that propels me to do all the things that are necessary to keep my business going. It is this excitement for creating not just photographs, but the kind of photos I love to do; conceptual digitally manipulated stock photos, that drives me to continually think up ideas, and that has me happily putting in fifty or more hours a week.

I don’t think that you can succeed in stock right now without that excitement. Stock photography seems easy to me because I love doing it so much. I have encouraged a lot of people to enter the business. I have seen a lot of these people struggle. A few have gone on to succeed, and many more have drifted away from stock. I am far less likely to encourage others to jump into stock these days. The business has changed dramatically. Micro stock has made is easier than ever to get started in the business. Over supply of images and downward price pressures have made it harder than ever to make real money, but it can be done. To succeed in this stock photo environment you can’t be that businessman standing unaware. In a sense we are all that man standing under the falling piano. You have to be on top of everything, and it is just too much if you aren’t really into it. To succeed in today’s stock photography business requires dedication, creativity, awareness, a ton of elbow grease, and above all else, passion.

Above I have included the parts for my upcoming image. To see the final stay tuned! Now I am off to indulge myself in my passion, creating that stock photo.