Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: [1]   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: Protection of photographers' rights  (Read 2716 times)
Diapositivo
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 57


WWW
« on: October 12, 2007, 11:12:54 AM »
ReplyReply

In the (old?) days of film, if there was a controversy regarding paternity of a picture, the slide or negative would easily solve the matter. If you managed to get the infringer on trial, you won. A duplicated slide or a reshoot from print is easily detectable. Nowadays it would be even easier because you give scans to the client and keep the slide always with you (a reason not to switch to digital).

In the modern days of digital photography you have no negative to show the judge. You have the RAW file but that is just an identically duplicable file like any other computer file, and we have to consider that many professionals give their clients the RAW files.

Another thread on another forum (a photographer had accepted to do a job for free and without contract for a magazine, at a friend's studio, but wanted proper mention on the magazine. The photo was published double page, no mention, and no contract either, so the poor guy really worked for free) made me think of how easy would it be in those days to solve the problem of paternity.

With some collaboration between an association of photographers (AF) and a couple big agencies this could be done pretty fast.

I think of a notarized system which can be pretty automatized.

First, let's say a photographer goes to an office of the Association of Photographers on a day when a notary is present (which can be once a month for instance). He shows his documents or otherwise prove his identity to the notary. He generate a cryptographic key pair (of the PGP / GPG kind, or anyway any asymmetric cryptography based on open standards) in presence of a notary.

The public key is given to the notary and to a server kept by the AF with some form of notary force of evidence. The private keys remains in the sole hands of the photographer.

When the photographer executes a job, before sending the pictures (RAW, TIFF, JPEG whatever, provided it is a standard which supports IPTC information) he signs the picture and attaches the signature using a well defined IPTC field (or a field to be created anew in the next version of the standard), when I say "signs" I mean he generates a signature which uses an hash according to a certain asymmetric cryptography algorithm, with a program that every photographer will have on his computer as a basic standard tool (it could well be incorporated into editing programs).

At giving the work to the client, immediately before or maybe immediately after, as soon as possible, the photographer connects to the AF server and registers the picture as his own, by trasmitting the signature with the hash.

So on the notarized server there is a signature which mathematically can only have been produced by that picture and by that photographer and on a date certified by the notarized server (asimmetric cryptographic is used on the server to ascertain that the picture was actually sent by that photographer, the notary certifies that that name/public key actually belong to that actual person).

The AF computer does not receive any image, only hashes. Hashes have a very small size and you can keep any number of them on a cheap system.

The photographer finds later on that the client is not paying and is forced to sue him.

He can show the TIFF picture to the judge, who will agree is the picture used by the client, but would until now be in doubt whether the suing photographer is actually the copyright owner for it.
No doubt any more! The described informative system can prove that on day X was deposited in the AF server a signature, which was inserted in the AF server on date X, and which produces a hash which is actually the hash of that picture with a signature that can only have been produced by that photographer.

Insolvency apart, if the client is in good faith but has lost track of whose the photo is, he can connect to the AF server, give it the signature of the picture, and have the name and contact information of the photographer who registered the picture. The server would always have updated information, so the photographer can be contacted even after having changed address many times (the update would require to see the notary).

If a quite inhonest person (QIP) steals the image, modifies just a bit of it (so that the hash changes) and registers it on the AF server with his own signature, the picture (the hash with signature) will be registered as belonging to QIP, but when you sue him, you can show the judge a picture (just as you would show him a slide) with a notarized answer from the system stating that the picture has been registered by YOU on day X time Y (QIP has registered it later than you, if you have registered it fast).

The costs of the system would be very small: professional photographer in any given nations are not in the zillions, each of them would easily pay some tenth of dollar per year in order to finance the system. Photographic Agencies would certainly adhere and finance the system also.

The entire technology to do so exists since 15 years at least at computer desktop level, and is extremely efficient. I created my first PGP key in 1996 and I could generate a 1024 bit signature with a 30 MHz Amiga in a few seconds, a hash from a 100MB picture might be longer to calculate but who cares, fast computers of our days can crunch an enormous computational work in a minute. Also the hash can be computer by taking only certain pixels of the picture.

IPTC fields already exist and are supported by the great majority of graphic formats. Maybe a new field can be created on purpose, or a generic info field can be used.

The only real costs would be related to the notarization process.  

I wander why such a thing has not being realized yet. Just to make an example, Corbis registers a copyright for every picture they represent. So the costs of the actual systems are high (whether you want to register copyright or not). An automated system would generalize copyright registration and keep costs very very low.

What do you think of such a system?

Cheers
Fabrizio
Logged
Rob C
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 12213


« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2007, 11:50:24 AM »
ReplyReply

Fabrizio

It sounds a very good idea, but also demands a lot of computer knowledge (I think this because I do not have it) which I wonder about. Many photographers take to digital work easily and with relish - others, such as myself, use digital out of necessity and without much enthusiasm for any of the computer workflow.

No doubt the process sounds more difficult than it might be, but I really think the problems will lie not with the final users of images, but the middlemen, the very agencies which I think you expect to join in and help the system along.

Perhaps Iīm just paranoid, but I believe that the future for photographers dealing with large agencies (stock) is going to become more fraught. It seems that there are already problems with some of them taking bits from several images in their files, belonging to different photographers, combining parts of them to make a new whole and then passing the compilation off with themselves as copyright owners of the new picture. Why would these people want to help?

As I understand it, stock is going to be the major source of professional images; perhaps itīs already too late to help independent photographers survive much longer. I do not, of course, include photographers in the wedding industry here, but who knows - perhaps second marriages will save money by using old originals with new faces cloned in... thatīs partly a joke. Possibly only partly a joke because I doubt many people would spend much money on wedding photography twice!

Ciao - Rob C
Logged

DiaAzul
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 777



WWW
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2007, 12:44:15 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
The only real costs would be related to the notarization process. 

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145541\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Dream on...if you have actually had to do this in reality you would realise that the cost is not in the technology but in the political establishment of the concept, it's implementation and its marketing. The chances of this actually getting of the ground is zip - unless some politician/organisation decides they can extract further value from photographers.

In the end it would count against the content creator, and not in their favour as you  imply.

Technology creates slave, it does nothing to liberate the individual.
Logged

David Plummer    http://photo.tanzo.org/
dilip
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 61


« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2007, 01:32:45 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Dream on...if you have actually had to do this in reality you would realise that the cost is not in the technology but in the political establishment of the concept, it's implementation and its marketing. The chances of this actually getting of the ground is zip - unless some politician/organisation decides they can extract further value from photographers.

In the end it would count against the content creator, and not in their favour as you  imply.

Technology creates slave, it does nothing to liberate the individual.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145558\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Actually, the only buy in we need is a sufficient number of photographers.  There are a couple of other systems that could be employed similar to this.

The key of the system is that it centers around proving the creation date of a file and linking that file to a creator.  Since copyright exists as of the creation of the image, it could function so long as the notary agent is available to provide testimony that it was entered into such a system.  That would suffice to prove the creation.

The problem is the old chicken and egg problem.  If you don't have enough people doing this, there will never be a court case that affirms the system as legitimate.  Without the legal decision behind it, it will be hard to get people to buy in.

--dilip
Logged
bdkphoto
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 67


WWW
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2007, 02:24:27 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
In the (old?) days of film, if there was a controversy regarding paternity of a picture, the slide or negative would easily solve the matter. If you managed to get the infringer on trial, you won. A duplicated slide or a reshoot from print is easily detectable. Nowadays it would be even easier because you give scans to the client and keep the slide always with you (a reason not to switch to digital).

In the modern days of digital photography you have no negative to show the judge. You have the RAW file but that is just an identically duplicable file like any other computer file, and we have to consider that many professionals give their clients the RAW files.

Another thread on another forum (a photographer had accepted to do a job for free and without contract for a magazine, at a friend's studio, but wanted proper mention on the magazine. The photo was published double page, no mention, and no contract either, so the poor guy really worked for free) made me think of how easy would it be in those days to solve the problem of paternity.

With some collaboration between an association of photographers (AF) and a couple big agencies this could be done pretty fast.

I think of a notarized system which can be pretty automatized.

First, let's say a photographer goes to an office of the Association of Photographers on a day when a notary is present (which can be once a month for instance). He shows his documents or otherwise prove his identity to the notary. He generate a cryptographic key pair (of the PGP / GPG kind, or anyway any asymmetric cryptography based on open standards) in presence of a notary.

The public key is given to the notary and to a server kept by the AF with some form of notary force of evidence. The private keys remains in the sole hands of the photographer.

When the photographer executes a job, before sending the pictures (RAW, TIFF, JPEG whatever, provided it is a standard which supports IPTC information) he signs the picture and attaches the signature using a well defined IPTC field (or a field to be created anew in the next version of the standard), when I say "signs" I mean he generates a signature which uses an hash according to a certain asymmetric cryptography algorithm, with a program that every photographer will have on his computer as a basic standard tool (it could well be incorporated into editing programs).

At giving the work to the client, immediately before or maybe immediately after, as soon as possible, the photographer connects to the AF server and registers the picture as his own, by trasmitting the signature with the hash.

So on the notarized server there is a signature which mathematically can only have been produced by that picture and by that photographer and on a date certified by the notarized server (asimmetric cryptographic is used on the server to ascertain that the picture was actually sent by that photographer, the notary certifies that that name/public key actually belong to that actual person).

The AF computer does not receive any image, only hashes. Hashes have a very small size and you can keep any number of them on a cheap system.

The photographer finds later on that the client is not paying and is forced to sue him.

He can show the TIFF picture to the judge, who will agree is the picture used by the client, but would until now be in doubt whether the suing photographer is actually the copyright owner for it.
No doubt any more! The described informative system can prove that on day X was deposited in the AF server a signature, which was inserted in the AF server on date X, and which produces a hash which is actually the hash of that picture with a signature that can only have been produced by that photographer.

Insolvency apart, if the client is in good faith but has lost track of whose the photo is, he can connect to the AF server, give it the signature of the picture, and have the name and contact information of the photographer who registered the picture. The server would always have updated information, so the photographer can be contacted even after having changed address many times (the update would require to see the notary).

If a quite inhonest person (QIP) steals the image, modifies just a bit of it (so that the hash changes) and registers it on the AF server with his own signature, the picture (the hash with signature) will be registered as belonging to QIP, but when you sue him, you can show the judge a picture (just as you would show him a slide) with a notarized answer from the system stating that the picture has been registered by YOU on day X time Y (QIP has registered it later than you, if you have registered it fast).

The costs of the system would be very small: professional photographer in any given nations are not in the zillions, each of them would easily pay some tenth of dollar per year in order to finance the system. Photographic Agencies would certainly adhere and finance the system also.

The entire technology to do so exists since 15 years at least at computer desktop level, and is extremely efficient. I created my first PGP key in 1996 and I could generate a 1024 bit signature with a 30 MHz Amiga in a few seconds, a hash from a 100MB picture might be longer to calculate but who cares, fast computers of our days can crunch an enormous computational work in a minute. Also the hash can be computer by taking only certain pixels of the picture.

IPTC fields already exist and are supported by the great majority of graphic formats. Maybe a new field can be created on purpose, or a generic info field can be used.

The only real costs would be related to the notarization process. 

I wander why such a thing has not being realized yet. Just to make an example, Corbis registers a copyright for every picture they represent. So the costs of the actual systems are high (whether you want to register copyright or not). An automated system would generalize copyright registration and keep costs very very low.

What do you think of such a system?

Cheers
Fabrizio
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145541\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


The story you tell of the photographer not getting credit for working for free is a problem of extremely poor business practices not really a problem of copyright per se. Working for free and not having a written contact will always be trouble.

In the US it is very easy to register your work with the Library of Congress Copyright office, and you have time (90 days) after publication to register, it's cheap, you can register 1000's of images for $35 and now you can register and submit your work online as well.  Most of the stock agencies do NOT register work they represent - it is up to the photographer to do that for themselves.  As part of the contract you sign with the stock agency you state that you are the copyright holder of the images that you are submitting.  The major photo associations here all preach to their members to register copyrights, and give a detailed how to, and all of the business reasons to do so.  Visit www.asmp.org, www.editorialphoto.com and you can educate yourself on the process and its benefits of copyright registration.
Logged

Diapositivo
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 57


WWW
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2007, 02:45:43 PM »
ReplyReply

a) COMPLICATION

From the photographer point of view, complication is almost absent. You go "to the notary"* once (you go there again if you change address or social denomination).

When you walk away from the notary you have 2 files: one is your "public key" and the other is your "secret key".

The public key is distributed urbi et orbi[/]. It can be kept at the Organization sites but also on many other sites on internet. Public and free repositories of public keys exist since before 1996**. They interchange public keys so you upload your public key to one server and in a few days it is all over the world.

The secret key is to be used only with a password. You choose the password and modify it when you want. The couple "secret key file + password" is your signature. You keep it at home in a safe place, you don't put it in the portable computer.

The application could be a plug-in for Photoshop: You just choose "File / Sign", the plug-in asks you for the password, you give it, and the plug-in embeds the signature in the picture, and that is all for embedding.

As far as communicating to the server, you just have an application and you tell it "create a signature file for all the images in this directory". It will create a text file that you will upload to the Organization web site.

If I had to explain you how to make an FTP transfer, I should have to spend 3 kB and it would sound very complicated, but is in fact dead easy. This thing would be just more simple than adding IPTC manually to a file, and more simple than uploading a TIFF file to a server. It is all stuff that any "digital" photographer can learn in 20 seconds.
 
Technologies to encrypt and sign mail with asymmetric cryptography exist since many years and is very simple to use, effective and simple interfaces have always existed (besides more professional solutions). You can install plug-ins in your mail program that encrypts or signs your mail (and decrypt it) in a transparent way (besides asking you your password when you want to sign an email). Very very easy.

When you use a SSL "secure" site you are using exactly this technology. You go to certain sites and you see the "lock" and you did not have much pain . You can see the "certificate" of the site you are visiting. Again same technology. The certificate is released by a certifying authority. If you dig into your browser's config you will find the certificates and the emitting authorities.

 STRUCTURE AND ACCEPTANCE (egg and chicken)

Yes that cannot come as the initiative of a Forum or sparse photographers. That is why I said it would require the initiative of some Organization of professional photographers and also of some photographic agencies. It would be important to discuss the thing with the industry, not to make mistake that would make implementation difficult.

It basically is all very easy. Technology like this is used since many years to sign digitally documents that have binding legal value and are non-repudiable.

The only "problem" is to have a couple of let's say "visible" names that start the mechanism. Let's say PPA and Corbis. It will then cause a snowball.

It certainly is going to happen one day. It certainly is not going to stop picture piracy but it is going to make judicial action easier and it would give the photographer the certainty that the copyright info is always updated and always embedded in the image.

Agencies have exactly the same interest that photographers have in being paid for photo usage and I cannot see how could it be otherwise (if we exclude those agencies that live out of the "subscription" of the photographers, but they are not agencies strictly speaking).

Cheers
Fabrizio

* When I so "go to the notary" I don't mean that notaries as a group must understand this. There have been already societies specialised in notarized electronic signatures in the US, since at least 10 years. You don't have to train every notary on what this means. The US have a general acceptance of electronic signatures since more than 10 years. Italy has adopted a law on electronic signature since several years. I can deposit my tax declaration by internet signing with an electronic signature, that is legally binding and not-repudiable. It really is not rocket science.

** I say 1996 because in that year I created my key pair and all of this already existed. It might well have existed since many years.
Logged
Monito
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 96



WWW
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2007, 03:42:18 PM »
ReplyReply

The notarized system exists (as pointed out).  It is the US Copyright office, which accepts registration from foreign nationals as well.

Copyright tutorial by ASMP:
http://www.asmp.org/commerce/legal/copyright/

http://www.copyright.gov/
Logged

MonitoPhoto (Landscape, Architecture, Portraits: Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Diapositivo
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 57


WWW
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2007, 05:19:49 PM »
ReplyReply

OK, I must have expressed myself not very clearly.

I know Copyright Offices exist. There is one in every Country, none excluded.

This is all XX century way of doing.
Requires work.
Gives no evidence the work is correctly copyrighted (in the case of the US, the procedure is simple and can be done remotely, but there is no return receipt of any kind for the copyright).
Gives no way to a good faith picture editor who ignores who the author is to retrace him.
You have time after publication to register your work, but whoever arrives first can register in your place the picture as his work (you can sue to demonstrate the work is yours, but until you give a demonstration, whoever register first is the copyright owner, and the other guy can well have the same RAW you have, so you will have to have witnesses etc.).

So the real protection when you register copyright is to do it before you make your work circulate, and so you have to do it in a fast and simple way.

With the actual US system (or with any other Copyright office) that would require a separate FedEx to the Library of Congress for each job you make.

You have to keep your own filing regarding which pictures you have registered and which not.

You don't have an easy way to show the infringer that you actually are the copyright owner, if not by making some paperwork and waiting the answer from the copyright office.

If you claim money, the infringer must make a separate request to the Copyright office to know if there are other copyright owners for the same work (which may happen).

You entire copyright registration is on a physical support, and in 70 years after your death can undergo any sort of loss (whether it be fire or mice, or mold, or physical decay of the support, or it simply can be lost).

It will not be easy for your heirs to know which works you have registered and actually which work are yours, they will not memorize the 100.000 pictures you have shot in your career just in case they could claim payment.

No surprise registration is a pratice not very widespread. I know Corbis registers the pictures on behalf of their photographers, so there must be a procedure that does not require all the process illustrated on the ASMP site.

The XXI Century solution seems to me not only much more effective, but also much more economical administratively.

My point is that in the computer age there must be a more automatic, simple, certain  and hassle free way to do it, rather than sending a contact sheet and a form to a physical archive with zillions others.

The ASMP could in my opinion be one of the natural initiators of this kind of initiative.

Cheers
Fabrizio
Logged
Pages: [1]   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad