I don’t understand. When images first started to appear on the internet way back in the 1990′s, photographers and agencies were up in arms about how web browser had to cache images in order to display them. It meant, and still does, that a copy of the images is downloaded into a computer, thus making everyone who sees your images, an infringer. Many tried, in vain, to find a way to display images without going through this process, even asking users to delete their cache after a visit.

That was a failed battle. Then, when Picture Search company Ditto.com launched, another segment of the photo industry raised their battle shields and even brought them to court. Obviously, when Google did the same, more people joined in. Displaying thumbnails without licensing them was, after all, a copyright infringement. Thanks to the Fair Use law, that battle was soon lost too.

Today, hundreds, if not thousands of images are continuously being stolen from either agencies or photographers’ online portfolio. Most drop their arms in despair in front of the quantity of known cases and live with this constant pain as if it was a normal part of doing business.

web 2.0Yet, these are the same people asking, screaming and complaining about DRM in music. The same that downloaded free music from old Napster or the current Kazaa. They have MP3′s up the wazzoo, listening to stolen music while editing their images on hacked version of Photoshop. They cannot understand why a music company would not even let them copy ad nauseum music that they purchased legally.

There are two critical aspects at play here: one, the total lack of DRM initiative in the photo industry. Run a photo or photography DRM search in Google and you will find nothing, zero, nada, niente, zilch. There is the Plus initiative of course, but it is mostly a catalog of licensing terms, not a Digital Rights management. Maybe one day, someone, somewhere, will use it to create a photo DRM.

Second, it is the total lack group initiatives from this industry. Photographers and agencies have multiple association but not one of them has taken the initiative to start a DRM program. Everyone suffers from stolen images and ridiculous laws like Fair Use or the potential Orphan works, but yet everyone seems to believes its the others problem. Or maybe that it will fix itself.

Farmers used to go out together hunting for wolves when those came too close to their farms, yet this industry expects his neighbors to get rid of the danger. Retail stores invested a fortune into security cameras and other thief deterrent systems. Besides a hackable name and password, a visible erasable watermark, sometimes an invisible also erasable watermark, the photo industry takes little or no effort to protect their images. You would think it would be their priority number one, considering it is their livelihood.
It doesn’t make sense.

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