The headline on the press release was arresting: “CONCENSUM Announces First Worldwide Registry For Photography & Image Copyright Protection Using Blockchain.” This free service, combined with its sister site: CopyTrack.com, purports to provide copyright protection to still photographers around the world.
Founded by Marcus Schmitt in 2017, and focused on digital images, CONCENSUM “solves the issue of a non-existent globally accepted copyright registry for images. Before CONCENSUM, proving ownership of digital images was extremely difficult, since metadata is routinely stripped by websites, search engines, and social media platforms. With CONCENSUM, photographers and graphic designers now have an easy way to register their images online. This puts an end to one of the defenses employed by people who use images online without paying — that they don’t know who owns the photos. By using CONCENSUM’s worldwide registry, photographers and other content providers now have an easy way to register and track their digital content online and get the compensation they deserve.
“A major benefit of the CONCENSUM GLOBAL COPYRIGHT REGISTER is that it is safe and easy to use. Before registering the first image, each user will go through an authentication procedure via video identification. After images are registered, CONCENSUM provides the user with a certificate for each registered image. Certificate validity can be confirmed online and every single piece of information in the certificate can be referenced, checked, and validated with CONCENSUM’s three levels of validation.” (Concensum press release)
To learn more, I contacted Marcus Schmitt, CEO of CONSENSUM to learn more.
Larry: Why is the issue of tracking copyrights important?
Marcus: Every day 3 billion images are uploaded & shared in the internet – 80% are actually stolen and it’s not much different with videos. I guess that answers the question and shows how big the issue is. [Recently,] Copytrack published a free Global Infringement Report: https://www.copytrack.com/global-infringement-report-2019/
Larry: What’s broken about our copyright system now?
Marcus: There are only 17 national copyright registries in the world – and only five in “relevant” countries. Nothing [has changed for] decades, since the internet came up and all image and video assets became digital and shareable.
Larry: How does your technology help solve this problem?
Marcus: Well, there is prevention & tracking & enforcement. There are some basic measures you can take, like watermarks etc. But meanwhile there are some services that conveniently take care of that. When it comes to registering digital assets, there is www.concensum.org the Global Copyright Register, where you can register your images worldwide.
When it comes to tracking and enforcement there is www.copytrack.com our Global Copyright Enforcement which is free to use. The use of your images is tracked worldwide and the enforcement service is risk free.
Larry: What do photographers need to know to use it?
Marcus: Actually it is pretty easy. You simply create a free account and upload your image portfolio. Our search engine starts automatically & works continuously. All hits worldwide are delivered in your inbox and you can evaluate whether an image is legally used or stolen. A bunch of filters & functions make it pretty easy to focus on the “important stuff.”
If you find an illegal use, you simply submit the case to us and we will take care of recovering the proper fee for you.
Larry: What happens if your technology (product?) finds unauthorized use?
Marcus: Our technology detects the use of the images worldwide. Only the rights owner [will] know whether it’s an illegal use, since he knows where he sold it to. However, we have some nice features to make that easier and also a whitelist function for all your clients.
Larry: Who handles negotiations when an infringement is found?
Marcus: The Copytrack legal team does that.
Larry: How can photographers get compensated for unauthorized use?
Marcus: If we solve a case early stage with a “friendly post-licensing,“ the photographer receives 70% of the recovered fee. If we solve the case with legal action, the photographer receives 55% of the result. At no stage [is] the photographer [at] any legal or cost risk.
Larry: What examples can you illustrate showing how your system works?
Marcus: We are processing thousands of cases each month, but some of them are sticking out because images being famous, like the case of Rab Lewin, the well known “Kurt Cobain“ photographer. Then there are cases with extraordinary recovery fees of 5 digit amounts, where corporations use images on a large scale without license.
Larry: What do photographers need to do to protect/track/recover their work?
Marcus: The best way would be to register all images at the Global Copyright Register [at] www.concensum.org. This system is already connected to the monitoring of Copytrack.
Then you should monitor the use of your images at www.copytrack.com and submit all illegal used images as a case.
Larry: What does it cost?
Marcus: The use of the system is free. All we take is a purely success-based fee. The photographers receive 55-70% percent of the resulting recovery. In general most of our clients make more money with the enforcements of their rights than with selling their images.
Larry: Can videographers use your system? If so, how?
Marcus: Well, all videos usually contain several reference images. If you would upload those reference images you would theoretically also be able to find the use of the video.
However, our system is tailored to be used for images, graphics, etc.
Larry: Where can we go on the web to learn more?
Marcus Schmitt, CEO, COPYTRACK, is a serial entrepreneur and executive manager with more than 20 years of experience in founding, scaling, and management of SMEs and enterprises in an international environment in Europe, the U.S., and Asia. In 2015, Schmitt founded COPYTRACK, a service that monitors the global online use of images, taking care of worldwide subsequent licensing and rights enforcement. In 2017, Schmitt founded CONCENSUM, the Global Copyright Register, a service based on blockchain technology that connects the copyright of digital content with its authors to protect their assets worldwide.
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