Finding Photographers

Posted on 12/27/2017 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Most commercial users want to be honest. They don’t set out to steal. They certainly don’t want to be chased by a photographer and his/her legal team once it is discovered that they have used an image without permission.

If photographers want to license more images to professional users – and get better prices – then they must make it easier for customers to find them once the customers finds an image they would like to use. The process is easy enough if the customer finds the image on a stock agency website, but more and more customers are finding the images they would like to use by searching Google, Bing, Flickr or by randomly searching Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, other social media sites or various publications.

If the image is initially discovered in one of these ways, it is often very difficult for the potential customer to determine who the image creator is and how they could go about obtaining legal permission to use the image.

What’s The Solution

There needs to be one central, unified database that contains a copy of every image in the world where permission is required before use. This could be called the Licensed Image Database (LID). All that’s needed is a small image file (about 500K) of each image, so a digital fingerprint of that image could be created. The the LID could be visually searched like Google Image Search.

Assuming that the cost of creating such a database can be kept low (sources indicate that it can), and the process for creators to upload images to this database simplified, there should be very little resistance from creators to using such a database. Creator that won’t bother placing their images in the database would have little reason to complain if someone makes an unauthorized use of their image.

The database would only contain a small percentage of all the images on the Internet. Most people don’t care if others use their images. They might even be happy if someone would use one of their images. These images creators wouldn’t need to concern themselves with the LID. They can just post their images wherever they want and accept what happens.
    (There needs to be just one worldwide database. Multiple databases sponsored by different countries or competitors would make it much more difficult for customers because they would be required to go to multiple sources, rather than a single source, to obtain information.)
Here’s more about how it could work.
    1 – Photographers or illustrators would upload a small file (about 500K) to this central database.
    2 – The creator would also supply his/her contact information and a list of organizations that may license rights on the creator’s behalf. Once registered the data would be automatically attached to any new images that creator submits. ?

    3 – The LID would create the unique fingerprint of each image, add the fingerprint to the collection and keep track of the date the fingerprint was available for searching. ?
    4 - The fingerprints could then be used to visually match images supplied by a potential customer.
    5 – When a customer uploads an image to the LID, it would be fingerprinted and compared with the billions of fingerprints in the database. Anyone could search the database for free. If they find an image match, then they know that it is one that requires permission before use. ?
    6 – If the customer wants to contact the image owner, then they must pay a small fee to receive the contact information immediately. In some cases, where the image is available non-exclusively through a number of sources, there may be several potential sources of contact.
    7 – Large files are not needed. Keywords are not be needed. The LID will not be involved in any actual licensing.
To establish such a database, image creators or agencies representing them, must be willing to pay a small fee. The initial fee would probably be less than it costs to register a single collection of images at the U.S. Copyright Office. (Copyright registration may become less important as participation on the LID shows an alleged infringer that the author is serious about protecting the work (See here). If the creator makes a single sale the fee is likely to more than cover the creator’s costs of including all their images in the database.

Why Would Image User Pay

Users would be asked to pay a small fee, maybe $2.00, to get the contact information. They might be required to pay $10 for 5 credits and charged 1 credit per request for information.  There could be volume discounts for larger packages or credits. (See my site and for how this might work.) Internet user are becoming much more willing to pay something for a service that makes life easier for them.

Charging a small fee could cut down on the number of people looking for free images or just wanting to chat and waste the creator’s time.

Copyright © 2017 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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