Category Archives: Education

VisualSteam Announces the Results of its 6th Annual Survey of Creative Pros on Stock

Image Licensing

“Free” (CC0) images have burst onto the market with as many creatives using free images as those using microstock.

VisualSteam announces the release of its 6th Annual Survey of Creative Pros: Stock Image Licensing. The survey is sent to more than 20,000 art buyers, art directors, art producers, creative directors, photo editors and marketing professionals around the world. Survey results provide valuable information to creators, licensors and marketing professionals and offer a glimpse into what is driving image licensing today.

This year’s report shows a progression but also a continuing change in the market. The importance of visuals to user engagement and retention continues to drive a substantial increase in demand. The volume of images used continues to grow as does social media and communications, in general. Price and budgets impact purchasing in a significant way, as does quality. Once again Getty (gettyimages.com) and Shutterstock (shutterstock.com) are battling it out for the hearts and minds of Creatives. However, 45% of those surveyed say they are using“free” image content. Free image provider Unsplash (unsplash.com) appears in the top ten of “favorite,” top-of-mind resources.

“There are many interesting pieces of data in this year’s report” says Leslie Hughes, VisualSteam’s Founder and Strategic Advisor. “Anyone creating or licensing visual content can learn about shifts in preferences, and the wants and needs of Creative Pros. We are also trying to build in more trend data, comparing results with previous years.”

VisualSteam wants to recognize and thank the sponsors of this year’s survey, Alamy (alamy.com), FootageBank (footagebank.com) and iSPY Visuals (ispyvisuals.com). Their support allows us to continue to produce the survey at an affordable price.

To request a copy of this year’s survey, please email sales@visualsteam.com. For more information about VisualSteam, please go to www.visualsteam.com, or email info(at)visualsteam(dot)com.

About Visual Steam

VisualSteam (www.visualsteam.com) is a marketing services organization that specializes in digital transformation and visual content markets. We work with producers, creators, and distributors to better understand and respond to market needs and define strategies for expansion and execution. We also work with clients/image consumers and content marketers to help them understand, acquire and manage visual content.

Photos in 2019: A Trending Forecast from Scopio


As creatives know, there have been huge shifts in the visual landscape this year, especially due to what is popular and getting the most engagement on Instagram, where 50 million photos are being shared every single day.

At this staggering rate of content growth, at Scopio we have seen these trends get pushed through to the types of photos businesses are looking to use and connect in their storytelling. Scopio wanted to recap what they are and share what we think could add value to these trends. Hopefully, this trend report can help creatives spot unique moments and share them in their storytelling. Dive into Isolation and Solitude, Drone and Aerial, Mystical interpretations, and Activism as growth content areas.

Read the full article here

We are pleased to welcome Scopio back as DMLA Members!

Copyright Office Releases “Copyright and Visual Works: The Legal Landscape of Opportunities and Challenges”

The U.S. Copyright Office has submitted a letter to Congress detailing the results of the Office’s public inquiry on how certain visual works, particularly photographs, graphic artworks, and illustrations, are registered, monetized, and enforced under the Copyright Act of 1976. The Office sought commentary on the marketplace for these visual works, as well as observations regarding the real or potential obstacles that creators and users of visual works face when navigating the digital landscape. A number of stakeholders raised specific issues they face on a regular basis regarding current copyright law and practices that fall within three general categories: (1) difficulties with the registration process; (2) challenges with licensing generally and monetizing visual works online; and (3) general enforcement obstacles.

The Copyright Office takes these concerns seriously and has already taken steps to address them where it can, most notably with the ongoing Office modernization efforts in preparation for a wholesale technological upgrade to the Office’s systems. In other areas, the Office finds that legislative action is the best solution. The Office continues to strongly support the idea of a small copyright claims tribunal, as well as a legislative solution to the orphan works conundrum. Congress’ action in these two areas would go far to alleviate several important concerns raised by visual artists.

The letter, public comments, and background material are available on the Copyright Office website here

Federal Court Explains the Bounds of Fair Use by a News Organization, Ruling That Esquire’s Use of Photo of Trump at Private Wedding Is Not Fair

by Nancy Wolff, DMLA Counsel

The decision in Otto v. Hearst Communications, Inc., No. 1:17-cv-04712 (S.D.N.Y. 2018) provides a helpful guide to what is does not qualify as fair use in the context of a news story. Fair use is a limitation on a copyright owners exclusive rights and permits the use of a work without consent. It is codified in the current Copyright Act, and the statute provides examples of what can be considered fair use. Because “news reporting” is an example, it is all too common that popular news websites rely on fair use rather than licensing a photo, asserting that the use is news reporting. But is it?

Most likely not. In Otto v. Hearst Communications, Inc., Judge Gregory H. Woods dealt with this issue directly and found that Esquire.com’s use of a photo of Donald Trump at a private wedding in an article about him crashing the wedding was not fair use. The instructive decision, which analyzed the copyright infringement claim and individual components of the fair use defense, provides a clear example of what is not considered fair use in the context of a news story.

In June 2017, Jonathan Otto, a weddinggoer, snapped a photo of Trump, who happened to appear at a wedding held at his golf club in New Jersey. The amateur photographer texted the photo to a friend, only to discover the next morning that his photo had unexpectedly gone viral—first on Instagram, and then splashed across the pages of several online media outlets.

Seeking to protect his rights, Otto, retained counsel and filed for copyright registration. He then enforced his copyright by suing several of the media outlets, including Hearst Communications, Inc., the parent company of Esquire, who had copied and published Otto’s photo, for copyright infringement. In response, Esquire did not dispute that it had copied the photo but asserted a fair use defense arguing that it had used the photo of Trump for news purposes. However, the Court did not buy this argument.

The Court analyzed each of the four fair use factors in detail and explained why, taken together, the factors did not weigh in favor of a finding of fair use. Specifically, he wrote: “Stealing a copyrighted photograph to illustrate a news article, without adding new understanding or meaning to the work, does not transform its purpose—regardless of whether that photograph was created for commercial or personal use.”

While Esquire’s status as a news publication may be important for the fair use inquiry, that fact alone does not make Esquire, or any other media organization, immune from liability under intellectual property laws. Below is an overview of Judge Woods’ analysis and findings on each of the elements of fair use:

Purpose and Character of the Work. First, the Court discussed the purpose and character of Otto’s photo—arguably the most important fair use factor. The judge noted that Hearst’s argument that the use is fair because the photo was created for personal use, and Esquire used it for news, was unpersuasive. While “news reporting” is specifically identified as a potential method of fair use in the statute, courts analyzing this factor still look to the transformativeness of the use of the copyrighted work. For example, did Esquire’s use of the photo in a post describing Trump crashing the wedding add a new meaning or message? Esquire argued that its use did because the article “added commentary regarding the President’s availability for photos at the wedding and broader trend in the President’s behavior.” However, the Court disagreed, concluding that Esquire used the image solely for illustrative purposes—to depict the President’s presence at a private wedding—and did not add anything new to the image.

Nature of the Copyrighted Work. Second, the Court examined the nature of the copyrighted work, such as whether it is expressive or creative versus factual or informational, and whether the work is published or not. While photographs can vary widely on this spectrum, the Court agreed with Esquire’s argument that the image is more factual, because the photo was taken spontaneously to document an event, and Otto did not direct or pose the subjects. As for the publication status of the photo, the parties did not dispute that the image had already been published and disseminated widely before Esquire’s use. Although a copyright owner’s right of first publication is important, the Court found that Esquire’s article did not threaten this right. Consequently, this factor—while far from the most important in the fair use analysis—weighed in favor of fair use.

Amount and Substantiality of the Portion Used. Next, the Court evaluated just how much of Otto’s photograph Esquire used. For its article, Esquire used a slightly cropped version of Otto’s photo, but otherwise did not edit it. As one would assume, the more of a copyrighted work that is taken, the less likely the use is to be fair; however, courts also take the purpose of the use into account, looking back at the first fair use factor. Because it was clear that Esquire used the entirety of the photo and did so without adding new meaning or otherwise transforming the work, the Court found that this factor weighed against fair use.

Effect of the Use on the Potential Market. Finally, the Court considered the effect of Esquire’s use of the photo upon the potential market for or value of the photo. Where the copyright holder has no intention of entering the market, or the inability to do so, courts often find this factor weighs in favor of fair use. However, that is not the case here. Because Otto had acted quickly to protect his rights and was seeking to license the photo, such as to publications like TMZ, the Court found that it was clear that Otto was attempting to enter the market. Esquire’s unauthorized publishing of the same photo destroys the potential market and harm’s Otto’s ability to license the work. As such, the fourth factor also weighed against fair use.

Weighing the four factors together, the Court found that it was evident that Hearst’s use of the image was not fair. “The fact that Hearst’s commercial use did not transform the Photograph’s purpose or add new meaning to the image; the fact that Hearst used the work in its entirety; and the potential harm to any financial opportunities Otto might reasonably pursue for use of the photo, outweigh the fact that the image is factual and published,” Judge Woods concluded.

While any fair use analysis is an inherently fact-driven inquiry, this case is helpful to explain the point that a photo that merely illustrates a newsworthy article, without adding more, is not fair use. If the photo was the news story itself, the result might have been different. This case confirms that images to illustrate articles should be licensed and not just taken

Judge strikes down ‘data trespass’ laws as unconstitutional

In a big win for NPPA (National Press Photographer’s Association), after years of litigation, a federal judge struck down a Wyoming law that unconstitutionally banned photography in certain circumstances in Wyoming. They were represented by Public Justice in this case, but Mickey H. Osterreicher, Esq. and Alicia Wagner Calzada, PLLC dedicated many hours to this effort.
NPPA is member of the coalition of Visual Artists group along with DMLA.

Hearing for CASE Act: Capitol Hill, September 27th

The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act on Thursday, September 27th at 2:00pmET (Room 2141 in the Rayburn House Office Building).

Rayburn House Office Building Address45 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20515/
Nearest Metro Stop: Capitol South on Blue/Orange/Silver Lines Nearest Train StationUnion Station

Expected witnesses are as follows:

  • Ms. Jenna Close, P2 Photography
  • Mr. Keith Kupferschmid, Copyright Alliance
  • Mr. Matthew Schruers, Computer and Communications Industry Association
  • Mr. David Trust, Professional Photographers of America
  • TBD, Internet Association

DMLA encourages members to show their support of the CASE Act by joining with other visual creator organizations on Capitol Hill in show of unity for the proposed small claims tribunal before the House Judiciary Committee.  The Copyright Alliance will be passing out T-shirts to all in support of our cause.

We will be posting more information as it becomes available, but if you are in the area, please plan to show your support!

 

 

SUBSTANTIAL GROWTH FOR SMARTFRAME TECHNOLOGIES LTD

 

 

“SmartFrame has developed a revolutionary, patent-pending new image format for the
internet that seeks to redefine and become the ubiquitous digital image standard.”

Having spent 5 years developing the technology and building the infrastructure to support
exponential growth, SmartFrame is now seeing the technology being adopted by photographers, picture agencies, publishers and brands globally and is on target to having over
1 billion SmartFrames on the Internet in the next 4 years.

SmartFrame provides its users with unprecedented protection of their digital assets, persistent attribution, world class pixel-perfect presentation, audience engagement through custom overlays and calls to action, controlled sharing tools and full tracking and analytics data, whilst also providing the ability to update their SmartFrame’s dynamically and retrospectively, leaving them in full control at all times. SmartFrame have also developed in-image advertising options allowing it’s users to either set campaigns for their own in-house marketing and advertising purposes wherever they are displayed on the Internet, or opt in for SmartFrame to monetize their content for them via their programmatic advertising functionality.

SmartFrame is an embeddable format and as simple as embedding a YouTube video, Imagine your image content going viral and getting paid every time your image is viewed!

SmartFrame is proud to announce the closing of a further £1.5m funding round, and a
number of exciting new appointments and developments.

SmartFrame is delighted to announce they are completing a further £1.5m round of funding, bringing a total of £4.3m of investment into the business to date. The funding has been secured from some of the UK’s most prominent business leaders and angel investors.

In addition to the funding raised, existing shareholder James Rutherford, Head of European Equities at Hermes SourceCap has been appointed as Chairman of the Board.

The SmartFrame executive team in London has also expanded to include; Rob Staunton as Global Director of Programmatic Advertising, Phil Nott as Sales Director and Cayle McNair as Marketing Manager. In addition SmartFrame’s Berlin office have welcomed Product Manager, Alexander Gloeckner to the team. The company is currently counting 23 full-time staff across London, Berlin and Krakow with additional recruitment underway.

September will see the company launch their new self-service platform with a Freemium subscription plan, along with a number of easy integration tools and plugins to follow, supporting mass adoption of the format to the wider internet, and underpinning SmartFrame’s mission: “ to redefine the digital image standard ”.

Finally, SmartFrame will be present at several International events this year. Up next, the team will be exhibiting at the Digital Marketing World Forum (DMWF) in Amsterdam. They will also be at the London eCommerce Expo exhibiting in the Innovation section. They are a proud sponsor and will be presenting at this year’s BAPLA Focus in London. In October, SmartFrame will also be the joint Platinum sponsors, in partnership with Image Rights International at the Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA) in Los Angeles.

In reaction to the substantial growth and success of SmartFrame, CEO Rob Sewell, has commented:

“It’s remarkable to see how far SmartFrame has come, having expanded from 3 to 23 FTE’s,with offices set up in London, Berlin and Krakow, and over £4m of funding secured to date.
The company has attracted top talent and Investment across the board and is now entering a stage of rapid expansion and evolution with an anticipated headcount of 60 FTE’s this time next year.
Watch this space as we announce some major global partnership launches in the coming months.”

For further press info, interviews and images please contact:

Cayle McNair, Marketing Manager, SmartFrame Technologies

T: +44 (0) 7850 195 087

E: cayle.mcnair@smartframe.io

Please visit

FAIR USE OR INFRINGEMENT?

Industry experts have been scratching their heads after a U.S. judge ruled an image, taken from the website of a professional photographer and used by a film festival online, was fair use. The case, is Brammer v. Violent Hues Productions LLC, and it began when Russell Brammer found one of his pictures, a long exposure shot of Adams Morgan, Washington D.C., had been used on a website promoting the Northern Virginia Film Festival.

Read a complete analysis of the case here

Fair Use or Infringement?-Court finds use of image to illustrate a geographic area on website fair use.

by Nancy Wolff, DMLA Counsel

Fair use is often described as one of the most difficult to understand doctrines of copyright law by the courts. This could not be more obvious than in a recent Northern District of Virginia decision, which found in favor of fair use where an image was used to illustrate a website. Many in the industry thought the use at issue in the case was an obvious infringement as it was one that is typically licensed. In Brammer v. Violent Hues Productions, LLC, the photographer Russell Brammer sued Violent Hues for infringing his copyright of a time-lapse depiction of the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C., at night. Violent Hues used a cropped version of Brammer’s photograph on its website, which was intended to be used as a reference guide providing about an annual film festival in Northern Virginia. The court granted Violent Hues’ motion for summary judgment on its defense of fair use, finding all four of the statutory factors favored a finding of fair use.

As to the first factor – the purpose and character of the use – the court looked to “whether the new work is transformative” and “the extent to which the use serves a commercial purpose.” The court found that Violent Hues’ use of the photograph was transformative in function and purpose. While Brammer’s purpose in capturing and publishing the photograph was promotional and expressive, the court noted that Violent Hues’ purpose in using it was informational because it used the photograph to provide information regarding the local area. Its use was also found to be non-commercial as the photo was not used to advertise a product or to generate revenue. Additionally, the court found that Violent Hues’ use was in good faith because Violent Hues’ owner attested that he believed the photo was publicly available because he found the photo online and saw no indication that it was copyrighted. In further support of good faith was the fact that Violent Hues removed the photo as soon as it learned the photo might be copyrighted.

The second factor – the nature of the copyrighted work – was also held to favor fair use. While the court noted that the photograph contained creative elements, it was a factual depiction of a real-world location and Violent Hues used the photograph purely for its factual content: to depict the neighborhood. The photograph had also previously been published on several websites and “at least one of these publications did not include any indication that it was copyrighted.”

On the third factor – the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted whole – the court noted that Violent Hues cropped half of the original photo. The court found this to be no more than necessary to convey the photo’s factual content. Thus, the third factor weighed in favor of fair use as well.

Finally, regarding the fourth factor – the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work – the court found no evidence that Violent Hues’ use had any effect on the potential market for Brammer’s photo. The court noted that Brammer still made sales of the photograph (at least two) after Violent Hues’ alleged infringement began, and Brammer testified that he made no effort to market the photo. Additionally, the court found the cropping of the photo and its non-commercial use to undercut a finding of adverse effect on the photo’s market.

In all, the court found that each of the four factors favored Violent Hues and thus held that Violent Hues’ use was a fair use and that there was no copyright infringement.

This decision has been roundly criticized by the industry and it has been noted that it is not often that a court gets every fair use factor wrong. The plaintiff is appealing the decision and many associations in the visual arts industry, including DMLA, are planning to file either separate or joint amicus briefs. Specifically of concern is the distinction between using an image for informational purpose and using and image for aesthetic purpose. By its nature, every image conveys some information, and to be successful, should be aesthetically appealing. Further, one of the touchstones of stock imagery licensing is that one image or clip can be reproduced for many different purposes. In addition, the fact that an image is displayed without a copyright notice should not mean that the work is free to use without consent, absent a legitimate exception, as copyright notice has not been a requirement under US copyright law since 1989. Lastly, when looking at harm to the market the court should look at the potential harm to the market if the type of unauthorized use is widespread. As the licensing of images to websites to enhance the look of the site or to provide visual information regarding a geographic area is common, widespread unauthorized use of this nature could have a significant impact on the licensing of visual content.