As an Internet attorney, I found the following stock photography issue relevant for online entrepreneurs…
Faced with an onslaught of copyright infringement, Roger Ressmeyer, President of the Picture Archive Council of America (PACA), recently gave a speech that included the following stock photography recommendations:
1. Standardize licensing practices.
2. Embed metadata.
3. Use technology to find and pursue infringers.
4. Emulate celebrity image pricing methods for general and stock boutique collections.
5. Protect the pricing of standard rights managed and royalty-free.
6. Defang the orphan work’s legislation pending in Congress.
Each of these is a laudable goal for an industry that has taken some serious hits in recent years. However, as your Internet attorney can explain to you in detail, the effect will be minimal.
As RIAA and the MPAA have discovered, the market is no longer defined by them. Nor can laws passed in Washington protect that which can be accessed via the Internet from a server in Moscow or Sao Paulo.
Publishing giants and entertainment industry experts have preached doom and gloom futures for Google and YouTube for their respective alleged infringement of property rights involving books and video. Yet Google acquires YouTube, and the dinosaur media giants quietly start to make licensing agreements with the company.
Where does this leave stock photography? Fighting the same losing battle. Congress will not control its future. Prices will fall to meet a market demand that includes sufficient alternatives to permanently depress prices. If the images equivalent of Project Gutenberg is ever created, stock photography prices may plummet.
There will always be a demand for high quality images. But with technology making it easier for the amateur shutter bug to create such and provide it royalty-free to the world, PACA needs to create more ambitious goals to ensure the survival of its industry. In addition having an Internet attorney work on infringement issues, stock photo owners needs to develop legal means to sell their content that reduces the incentive for pirates and steal the pics.