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ImageRights adds free visual search, plans compensation recovery program  
Tuesday, June 29, 2010 | by Rob Galbraith
ImageRights, a visual search firm that assists photographers in identifying unauthorized photo usage online, has added a free service level in addition to the paid tiers they currently offer. At no charge, a photographer can upload up to 10,000 photos to ImageRights. The company will then continuously monitor news sites, popular blogs and other online locations for usage of those photos and generate a report for the photographer when a match is found. If the usage is an infringement, then starting next month the photographer can opt for ImageRights to handle the extraction of compensation from the offending site, with the revenue being split between the photographer and the company.

Affordable: The ImageRights free account signup page

It's an interesting twist on the web picture search options that exist today, including TinEye and of course Google. ImageRights, says co-founder and Executive Vice President Ted VanCleave, is the first such outfit to provide both discovery of unauthorized online publication and optional recovery of compensation for the individual photographer.

ImageRights currently checks for matches in a database of six or seven million photos. VanCleave says this database is currently growing by about one million photos each month. A beefing up of ImageRights' web crawler later this year will see growth accelerate to about three million new photos a month, he says.

While this volume is dwarfed by the 1.5+ billion photos in TinEye's database, VanCleave makes the point that ImageRights is focused exclusively on scanning sites from which financial recourse might be possible. Says VanCleave: "We're looking at businesses here." This means the millions of personal accounts on Facebook, and the billions of pictures they contain, are not what ImageRights is scanning, because there are likely to be few opportunities for the photographer to be compensated if an infringement is found.

VanCleave also emphasizes that the check for matches is not a one time occurrence at the moment of upload. Photos in a photographer's ImageRights account are continuously checked against photos being added to the company's site scan database. This means that a photo uploaded today and that doesn't generate an infringement detection right away could, months later, get a hit. At that time, says VanCleave, a report would be generated and sent to the shooter.

As of this writing, there is effectively no difference between a free account and a US$39.95/month Pro account: both allow up to 10,000 photos to be uploaded. No difference, that is, until an infringement is spotted and you want to make use of ImageRights' upcoming compensation recovery service. Then, the revenue sharing is different. Free account holders divide any payment from the infringer right down the middle (50% each, in other words), while paid account holders snare 65% to ImageRights' 35%. You can, however, switch a free account to a paid one prior to engaging ImageRights to chase down a fee, to avail yourself of the more favourable revenue split.

The compensation recovery service is to go live in July, several weeks from now. At its launch, ImageRights will handle infringements occurring on U.S.-based websites exclusively. The country in which the photographer is located is immaterial, says VanCleave, but the infringing site must be based within the U.S. for ImageRights to tackle the job of making them pay. Within six to 12 months, he notes, the company will extend this service to parts of Europe. ImageRights plans to release more details about compensation recovery in July.

The company is also in the later stages of development of a copyright registration service that's meant to streamline the process of registering photos with the United States Copyright Office. This will be a fee-based service from ImageRights. More information about this is expected closer to rollout, which is tentatively scheduled to take place "later this summer, " says an ImageRights PR representative.

More information about today's ImageRights announcement is in the press release below. The account signup entry page is here. A FAQ about ImageRights' service is here.

Update, June 30, 9:30AM MT: ImageRights' upload mechanism is once again working correctly.

Press Release

ImageRights International offers free service to help professional photographers identify digital image theft
Powerful visual search technology detects photo copyright violations, stock photo piracy

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. ─ June 29, 2010 ─ ImageRights International, Inc., a company that helps professional photographers and illustrators discover the illegal use of their intellectual property on the Web, is offering a free version of its online image recognition and recovery service to further expand efforts against image piracy.
With this new offering, the company’s advanced visual search and crawler technology will continuously scan websites and blogs to protect up to 10,000 images for professional photographers and illustrators. The crawler indexes millions of new images every month and uses powerful image recognition technology to compare customers’ photos and illustrations against images found on the Web. It then detects where the customers’ images have been used, even if the stolen photos have been altered, cropped, rotated or color adjusted. The customer receives a full report, including a picture of the original image, its use online, and the URL and ownership information for the website where it was found.

“As an advocate for photographers and illustrators, our goal is to help artistic professionals monitor how their work is being used on the Internet, and to partner with them to recoup lost profits when it’s being used illegally,” said Maria Kessler, senior vice president of business development at ImageRights and former president of the Picture Archive Council of America (PACA). “Image piracy is rampant online and by making these services more accessible, we’re enabling creatives to have more control over how their images are used, while sending a clear message that we are patrolling for unauthorized uses.”
 
Customers who take advantage of ImageRights’ free service may also participate in the company’s new, optional Recovery Program, which will launch next month to help photographers and illustrators obtain compensation for the unauthorized use of their images.
 
ImageRights will continue to offer its Basic, Standard and Pro packages for a monthly fee of $9.95, $19.95 and $39.95, respectively. Customers who select a paid program and opt into the Recovery Program will share 35 percent of their recovered fees with ImageRights; those who select the free service will share 50 percent of their compensation. Users are welcome to opt out of the ImageRights’ Recovery Program to pursue compensation on their own or with the help of their own attorney.
For information about ImageRights or to create your free account and start uploading your images now, go to www.imagerights.com.
 
 
About ImageRights International
ImageRights International protects professional photographers and illustrators’ intellectual property online by identifying illegal use of images and providing a support system to receive proper compensation. With its industrial strength crawler technology continuously scanning business sites, blogs, news/media sites and more, ImageRights works as an agent to support proper compensation for image use. Founded in 2008, ImageRights International is a global company headquartered in Cambridge, Mass. It is a proud member of the APA (www.apanational.com), CEPIC (www.cepic.org), and PACA (www.paca.org).


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