Many issues within the world of Visual Arts impact organizations in different ways.
Stock Agencies and Clip Art Firms face issues relating to Art Theft and the Rights of Art Objects. Many stock agencies encounter photo-licensing issues, posing many questions about a photos legal usability, while Clip Art Firms encounter copyright issues. With the accessibility of the Internet, stock photography and clip art theft and questions of ownership rights have lead to the creation of protective laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and using high-tech approaches to combating copyright infringement.
Recently, online stock agencies, like GettyImages.com, have started to scan the Web for illegal use of their images. In 2005, Getty upgraded its in-house technology to determine whether a photo is being used without permission and signed up for a service from an Israeli company called PicScout Inc. PicScout creates digital “fingerprints” for images, allowing it to locate pictures even if a stealthy thief changes a photo by cropping it, resizing it, altering its color or changing its filename.It then sends Web crawlers scurrying through the Internet looking for images, trying to match them to the more than four million copyrighted photos in its database . PicScout charges Getty, and their other major clients, a corporate fee and collects a percentage of the revenue they regain when they bill those who are stealing the images and has established a subscription service for self-employed photographers.Another company, Digimarc Corp., places a digital watermark on photos for sites like Corbis and individual photographers.
Images stamped with this watermark appear to be normal. Digimarc provides software that can be downloaded from their website to monitor for illegal use.Like PicScout, Digimarc uses an automated process to scour the Web for its watermarked photos.
Digimarc sends regular reports to clients detailing where it has found their images1. Both Getty and Corbis have taken a different approach when it comes to reprimanding the thousands of people who have misused their images. Corbis urges offenders to become paying customers before turning to litigation as a last resort. Getty will send warning letters to sites but will frequently offer to license the images for the normal rates.Many of these large stock agencies directly employ photographers or have years of professional experience with their contributors. But, lately, they have come into a direct competition with photo-sharing sites. The basis for this concern comes from the growing evidence that user-generated content is shaping more of the future for many types of online businesses, especially in the imaging world .
Redbubble.com allows users to upload their images and set their own prices for purchase.They will manage credit card payments, provide high-quality manufacturing, take care of packaging and worldwide shipping, and send the photographer their earnings; while he/she retains the copyright over their own work and decides what products they want to sell.
Another site, ifp3.com, allows consumers to host their own pre-made website, while allowing the photographer to share private galleries with their customers and can set their own printing prices.Opening up Getty and Corbis to consumers would cause issues such as the legal usability of a photo. Questions would arise; how do you know the person who submits the photos actually took them? If it contains a person, has the photo been released? Was the photo shot illegally (e.g.
, using hidden cameras, or invasion of privacy)? Might there contain certain private or government institutions that make publication of the image a violation of some statutes? How about trademark or copyright issues involving properties, logos or other marks? And then there are problems with international law2.A photo-sharing site that allows users to sell their images will result in an onset of images that aren’t owned by the people who submit them. So how do companies protect themselves from being pulled into legal battles? A law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (a.k.a., the DMCA) states, among other things, that “web hosts and Internet service providers have a ‘safe harbor’ from copyright infringement claims if they implement certain notice and take-down procedures.” 2 Three major conditions the DMCA states that many stock agencies already implement are:1.
The photographer warrants that the photos submitted are his and that they were taken legally (and to disclose whether photo releases were obtained for identifiable people)2. The licensee warrants that it bears full responsibility for using photos within the limits of the law. (Here, they are simply acknowledging what law already establishes.)3. Both parties recognize that the company does not and cannot vet for the usability of any given photo or photographer, whether it’s a matter of copyright ownership or usability by the licensee.
Copyright laws can be tricky. Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works4. Clip Art Firms not only deal with licensing issues and Art Theft in specific ways as stock agencies do, but are mainly focused on Imaging Rights. All clip art usage is regulated by the terms of individual copyrights and usage rights.
The three most common categories of image rights are royalty free, rights managed, and public domain. Royalty free licensing, the preferred model of licensing for clip art, allows the customer to use the art in non-profit, educational, and/or personal applications. Some royalty free clip art includes limited commercial rights as well .There are a few fine art clip art images that are sold on a rights managed basis, the value of their image and licenses uses based upon the extent of the use, as opposed to royalty free, which offers a “one price fits all” type of use. But this practice has waned in the past 20 years. The most popular types of clip art are the public domain images. These images are free to use.
But, many images described as pubic domain, in fact, turn out to be copyrighted. The cause of this misunderstanding is due to the fact that once a public domain image is altered in any way; it becomes an entirely new image and is deemed copyrightable by its new editor.For example, the large clip art libraries produced by Dover Publications or the University of South Florida’s Clipart ETC project are based on public domain images, but because they have been scanned and edited by hand, they are now copyrighted images, subject to very specific usage policies.In order for a clip art image based on a public domain source to be truly in the public domain, you must have the proper rights granted to you by the individual or organization which digitized and edited the original source of the image (for example, an original book) 3. Most clip art sites will give permission for art to be used on a personal site, and it states the provisions for commercial use.
Artists and collectors will frequently ask for a link back to their site so that others may visit.Both Stock Photography and Clip Art firms deal with art theft and image rights as two very similar problems. Since most of these services are digital nowadays users steal and use copyrighted images on a daily basis for either there own personal use or for use on their websites, businesses, blogs, etc…
With companies like Getty Images and Digimarc, the stock photo and clip art agencies now have useful resources to help battle this epidemic at there disposal. Out of necessity comes ingenuity, and the protection of this type of art and its artists is a very real necessity in this day and age.