Copyright is key to photographers getting fair deals in a digital world. That's why Getty Images invests considerable resources into technology and innovations to protect the intellectual property of artists around the world. (Photo by Maria Dias)

“Can Photographers Get Fair Deals?” Getty Images says copyright is key, technology will help

June 6, 2013 | By Maria Dias | Community

At the World Creators Summit this week in Washington, D.C., the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) posed an intriguing question to a panel of industry experts: “Can photographers get fair deals in a digital world?”

In a room full of industry leaders, artists, photographers and policymakers, Getty Images answered, yes.

Getty Images General Counsel John Lapham said photographers absolutely can succeed in this digital age and that Getty Images invests considerable resources in technology to help them do so. Newer digital platforms which leverage copyrighted works to draw revenue certainly pose challenges, but it is possible to find solutions.

“We have a global technology group of several hundred people who are constantly working on that,” Lapham said, and their efforts are helping to enhance solutions such as ImageIRC, which ensures every image gets its credit and photographers get paid for their work.

Award-winning photographer and director of Project Pressure, Klaus Thymann, joined Lapham on the panel and stressed the urgency of the unauthorized use problem, where websites which are collecting advertising dollars and drawing eyeballs with professional images still are not passing any revenue to the photographers behind the pictures.

“We can sit here all day talking about what shouldn’t be done. Getty [Images], they’re at least fighting a corner and trying to get something done,” he said. “… I think it’s really important to look forward.”

Bruce Livingstone, founder of Stocksy and iStockphoto (the latter of which is now owned by Getty Images) agreed.

“I think it’s great that Getty Images is experimenting with new models,” he said, “because who else could do it?”

Joining Lapham, Thymann and Livingstone on the panel were Eugene Mopsik, Executive Director, American Society of Media Photographers; Tracey Armstrong, President and CEO, Copyright Clearance Center; and Michael Grecco, a renowned photographer and Executive Vice President of the American Photographic Artists.

While at times the debate and discussion grew emotional and heated, one thing remained clear among all panelists: The importance of copyright cannot be overstated. Copyright enables creatives to thrive, and, as a result, enriches society as a whole.

“There’s a reason why more than 150,000 photographers around the globe trust Getty Images to manage the rights of their copyrighted materials,” Lapham said after the event. “We constantly innovate and we invest considerable resource to protect their intellectual property – ensuring customers have easy, legal access to the images, video and music they need, and making sure that content creators are paid for their work.”


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  • Megan

    Unauthorized use has been an issue in the media world for a long time. The fact that there are solutions being sought out by Getty Images shows an innovative sense of creativity in the field of media release. With the rise of popularity in social media, these solutions will be huge advances in the media world because they will create a space where content creators feel comfortable releasing their content.