Category Archives: Education

BlockChain Registration: Proof of Existence Is Not Proof of Ownership

By Joe Naylor, President and CEO of ImageRights

There is a dangerous movement afoot; the idea that registration of your images on the blockchain is a cheap and simple alternative to registration with the United States Copyright Office. It is not.

Those providing copyright registration services based solely on the blockchain will argue that inscribing a hash of your image along with its accompanying metadata creates an immutable record of your copyright ownership. False.

Read the entire article here.

Proof of Existence Is Not Proof of Ownership

By Joe Naylor, President and CEO of ImageRights

 

 

There is a dangerous movement afoot; the idea that registration of your images on the blockchain is a cheap and simple alternative to registration with the United States Copyright Office. It is not.

Those providing copyright registration services based solely on the blockchain will argue that inscribing a hash of your image along with its accompanying metadata creates an immutable record of your copyright ownership. False.

What these services offer is the second largest application of the blockchain after Bitcoin: Proof of Existence.

What these services prove is that your image file with the meta data you input existed at the time that the hash was created and inscribed into the blockchain. However, what they fail to acknowledge is that the information can be easily manipulated. Almost anyone can download an image and edit the metadata, populating the data fields with whatever information they choose.

To emphasize the point, here is an example of a photo that was registered through a blockchain copyright registry service along with its blockchain certificate of registration. The only problem is that this photo was not shot by me nor do I own the copyrights to it, John Smith does.

And now let’s imagine the worst-case:

  1. John Smith takes a photo, posts it to his website and inscribes the JPEG file with a blockchain copyright registry service.
  2. I download the image from his site and change the EXIF metadata of the file to my name, thereby creating a twin-JPEG with 100% identical image content, but different bytes.
  3. I register my file with another blockchain copyright registry, which works even if both registries are on the same blockchain because the bytes are different due to the different name I entered in the EXIF meta data.
  4. John Smith’s registry shuts down (e.g. goes bankrupt, management decides it’s not a profitable business unit, etc.). The blockchain still contains the inscribed hash for John Smith’s file; but nobody can find John Smith’s inscription unless they have a bit-identical copy of the image file John Smith registered.
  5. I start licensing the copy John Smith’s image that contains my name in the EXIF data to unsuspecting buyers.

The messaging from the blockchain copyright registration services is extremely harmful to both the creators and users of the photographs. Many users searching the blockchain may take their claims as reliable and fail to perform their due diligence to verify the information provided on the blockchain.

If my image is viewed as authentic, solely because the work is inscribed on the blockchain under my name and falsified copyright information, then I can steal potential sales from the original photographer. Some may even try to go as far as pursuing copyright infringement claims for images they do not actually own the copyright to.

Essentially, these blockchain copyright registration services are proving that you had a specific file at a specific time; but, they cannot make any guarantees about the creation of the file, the content in those files, or the true copyright ownership of those files.

Whatever your position ideologically, the law states that you can’t file a copyright infringement complaint in US federal court if you haven’t registered the image with the US Copyright Office (USCO). Without a timely registration, meaning the image was registered within three months of publication or before the start date of the infringement, you are unable to seek statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringed work or attorney’s fees. If this crucial step is missed and the copyright information is only inscribed to the blockchain, without a USCO registration, there are potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be lost in a copyright infringement case.

It is also important to know that a major differentiator between a blockchain registration and USCO registration is that the U.S Copyright Office Certificate of Registration serves as prima facie evidence that you are the copyright owner of the image. Prima facie is Latin for “at first look,” or “on its face,” referring to a lawsuit or criminal prosecution in which the evidence before trial is sufficient to prove the case unless there is substantial contradictory evidence presented at trial. Blockchain registration certificates do not carry this legal weight.

Furthermore, when you register works with the USCO, you must acknowledge and agree to the following:

17 USC 506(e): Any person who knowingly makes a false representation of a material fact in the application for copyright registration provided by section 409, or in any written statement filed with the application, shall be fined not more than $2500.

*I certify that I am the author, copyright claimant, or owner of exclusive rights, or the authorized agent of the author, copyright claimant, or owner of exclusive rights of this work and that the information given in this application is correct to the best of my knowledge.

Currently, there are not any blockchain registration services that require such an agreement or that can impose such fines by statute for fraudulently misrepresenting copyright ownership information.

While registration with the US Copyright Office can be expensive, don’t be deluded into thinking that the blockchain is some cheap cure-all for legally protecting your copyrighted work. The blockchain is not a government registry, but rather by definition is a distributed ledger without any central authority. Anyone can inscribe whatever they want in the blockchain without any legal recourse. That’s not quite the case with the United States Copyright Office. Proof of Existence is not Proof of Ownership.

 

 

 

Goldman v. Breitbart News, LLC: The Embedding Balance Has Tipped

On February 16, Judge Forrest of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Goldman v. Breitbart News, LLC – one of a pair of cases pending in Manhattan federal court concerning the practice of “embedding” copyrighted content – issued a ruling in favor of the plaintiff, photographer Justin Goldman, holding that embedding (or framing) content from another website does not immunize content users from copyright infringement claims.

Read the entire article here.

SAVE THE DATE: DMLA 2018 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

The DMLA Executive Board is pleased to announce that the 2018 Annual Conference will be held on October 21-23, 2018 at the Marriott Marina Del Rey Hotel in beautiful Marina Del Rey, California.  The hotel is walking distance to Venice Beach (a quick 10 minutes) and a short drive to Santa Monica Beach.

We’re excited to bring the conference to some California sunshine and to look at the future of licensing content in streaming online shows and television.  With companies like Buzzfeed, Hulu, Amazon and Snapchat located on the west coast, we’re looking to have some lively sessions.

Mark your calendars and look for more information to follow.

 

DMLA signs on to 2nd letter regarding NAFTA

DMLA signed on to a second letter to Ambassador Lighthizer, co-ordinated by the Copyright Alliance, in regards to the “modernization” of NAFTA.  We are thrilled that 34 other organizations opted in to bring attention to the policies by some internet platforms that promote theft of American creativity and innovation.

Read the letter here

Alternet Publishes Rick Gell’s Article

Congratulations to DMLA Board Member, Rick Gell, whose thought-provoking article entitled “How Silicon Valley’s Capitalist Greed Continues to Cheat Creators and Rob American Culture has been published by Alternet.

The article, which criticizes the DMCA and CDA – two laws that he believes have hurt copyright owners and journalists, is a very interesting read for all media licensors.

You can read the article here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright Small Claims: A Solution for Many Creators

Since the bill Copyright Small Claims Bill, H.R. 3945,  entitled, the “Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2017” (the “CASE Act”) was introduced by Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), there have been many articles published in support of this important legislation. Here is a great article to help you understand why this bill is so important to our industry and to all creators.

DMLA 2017 Conference is Another Big Success

I’ve just returned home from New York and I’m feeling so grateful for your participation in this year’s DMLA Annual Conference.  Our attendance was greater than last years and I trust that you were happy to be back in Manhattan!

The conference survey has been distributed and I hope you take the time to give us your feedback on this year’s event.  Your comments are so important as we begin to prepare for next year’s meeting in Los Angeles, California.  With all the exciting new things on the West Coast in terms of media and usage we are very excited to bring DMLA out west!

First I want to give recognition to all the wonderful speakers, moderators and panelists who made the conference so compelling.

As all of you know, lots of work goes into putting on an event like the DMLA 2017 Conference and we are so privileged to work with so many talented people.  To our Program Committee led by Ophelia Chong (Stock Pot Images), Doug Dawirs (DMLA Tech Advisor), Rick Gell (Consultant), Paul Melcher (Melcher Systems), James Oh (Adobe), Andrew Rowat (Haystack), Julie Sloane (Science Source) and Sonia Wasco (Grant Heilman Photography) a huge thank you for putting together such a diverse and interesting program.

A huge thank you to Doug Dawirs for working so tirelessly both days on the AV for the sessions and making sure that everything flowed so well. And an extra thank-you to Ophelia for her design of the conference logo and the new fold-up program that I believe everyone really enjoyed having right in your name badge holder this year!!

A special thank you to Geoff Cannon, our DMLA President, for his support and guidance and to our Treasurer Chris Carey and Past President Sonia for all their extra help.

It’s almost impossible to put on a conference without the assistance of our sponsors to help with the costs and we are so grateful for their generosity.  Adobe stepped up again with the Platinum Sponsorship and provided the wonderful conference bags, the delightful opening reception and provided us with a great session.  Silver Sponsor Capture’s DMLA LIVE DAM 2017 gave everyone easy access to find people for meetings and they also sponsored the great notebooks everyone was using to take notes!  I hope you’ve checked out the site (https://dmla.capture.co.uk) since the conference to see all the great live images!

Thanks also to Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams and Sheppards (CDAS) for sponsoring the lanyards.  To Clarifai, attending their first DMLA Conference, thanks for stepping up and sponsoring our Monday night cocktails!  Our printing was coordinated once again by Grant Heilman Photography and KeyIndia provided us with a wonderful masseuse that I hope you enjoyed.  Additional kudos to ImageRights who sponsored the photo booth at the cocktail parties (such fun) and the covered coffee cups during the day.

It was really nice this year to include more motion in our sessions and we thank both FOCAL and ACSIL for their participation and sponsorship.

And to our photographers Bjorn Bolinder (for the conference) and Jamie Ellington (for the receptions) who donated their excellent skills to our cause we are so very thankful.

And to Andrea Stern and Mary Egan from MOCA who helped me secure the sponsorships and provide all-around support for this event, a big hug and thanks!  They also have reviewed all the sessions and we will have those reviews up on the DMLA website ASAP.

Our photographers Bjorn Bolinder (for the conference) and Jamie Ellington (for the receptions) donated their excellent skills to our cause, many thanks!

Again, thanks to each of you for your support of DMLA and the conference.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions.

If you would like to be involved in next year’s conference planning, please contact me.  cathy@digitalmedialicensing.org.    Looking forward to seeing everyone next year!

 

 

ImageRights Announces Dedicated Copyright Registration Service

ImageRights International, the global leader in copyright enforcement services for photo agencies and professional photographers, today announced the launch of a dedicated copyright registration service. For the first time, any photographer or agency can register their images with the United States Copyright Office through ImageRights highly efficient and precise copyright service. Previously, only ImageRights members had access to the service.

Read more here