From Copyright Infringer To Customer: A New Approach To Photo Piracy

Copyright infringement extended its influence on not just movies, games or mp3 files, but also on photos, especially with services like Instagram and Pinterest kicking in hard. But Dreamstime, a fairly new stock photography service, comes in and forwards a solution to counter this problem. How? Let’s see…

Dreamstime is the kind of service which offers stock photos, all packed into different genres including Abstract, Nature, Objects, People, Technology, and so on. Their database includes over 15.000.000 images.

The problem of copyrighted photos being used by others than their rightful owners is not one to ignore, especially when popular websites such as Facebook, Tumblr or Instagram allow their users to post basically any photo they like.

From that to the frustration of professional photographers who see their work posted without permission or payment is just a small step. The first reaction was for lawyers to find those who used copyrighted photos without the owners’ permission and squeeze thousands of dollars out of them. As a matter of fact, this strategy has become a serious source of revenues for some services.

The issue with this approach is that those thousands of dollars are, in most cases, not reflecting the damage done by someone who infringes photography.

Instead of choosing the easy way, Serban Enache – Dreamstime’s CEO – proposes another solution: the company sends a notice to take that image down or offer the possibility to buy a license for as low as $8. Did it work? Well, according to him, this (new) approach actually brought more profit.

“We want to respond to copyrighted images but we want to do it in a different, non-heavy-handed way,” he said in a recent phone interview.

“This is very successful way of turning unauthorized users into customers. Once they learn of the license, they often obtain larger licenses.”

Getty, a similar service which prefers to use image recognition software to track down the unauthorized use of their images, is not very fond of this method, saying that…

“The DMCA [copyright] takedown process is not an adequate remedy by itself because it does not ensure that our photographers receive compensation for use of their images.”

In fact, the compensation Getty’s talking about is not always the case, as most users get no compensation whatsoever out of their sharing. So, instead of approaching them as hardcore pirates, maybe Getty should consider the option proposed by Dreamstime.