Copyright Education

An overview of Copyright Tracking Solutions for Photographers

This article presents different approaches and services that help photographers detect and pursue copyright infringements.

A number of companies provide services that help photographers and agencies to identify and resolve copyright infringements. This article lists a few of the well known players in the market and describes how they work.

How do Copyright Tracking Services work?

Most Copyright Tracking Services work in a similar way.

You sign up for their online service

  You upload your photos to their platform

  The service searches for your photos on the web

  You identify those picture uses that you deem copyright violations

  The copyright tracking company, a money collection company or a lawyer contact the infringer and ask them to pay a license fee or damages for the infringing picture use

While the picture search technology used, the web portals provided and the approach to collecting money from copyright violators vary in their details, all leading tracking providers follow the rough outline described above.


What are notable companies in the field?

There is a large number of companies operating in the field of copyright tracking for photographers. A few of the notable players on the market are PIXRAY, Image Rights, PicRights, PIXSY, Copytrack, Permission MachineLapixa and  ImageProtect.

Photo District News (PDN) has a good summary of available providers in this article from 2019.


What's the business model of Copyright Tracking companies?

Most copyright enforcement companies for photography work on a success basis, charging a share of any payments collected from copyright infringers.

This share is typically in the order of 50% of payments recovered.


What to consider when selecting a Copyright Tracking provider?

It is not easy for photographers and agencies to select the right copyright tracking provider. A few factors to consider when making your choice are

  • Does the provider have expertise and capacity to make claims in those countries that are most relevant for you?
  • Do you remain the owner of your claim or do you have to assign your claim to the copyright tracking provider so that they pursue it in their own name?
  • Are the style of communication and the escalation threats the provider applies in line with your  brand and how you want to be perceived?

Is there a good reason to not use a classic Copyright Tracking Service to resolve infringements? 

More and more photographers and photo agencies realize that sending a third party after an infringer is not always the best solution. Often infringers just did not know better and would immediately buy a license when the issue is pointed out to them. In those cases it would be beneficial for you to communicate with the infringer directly, establish a positive relationship with them and turn them into a customer instead of an opponent. If this sounds right to you, check out Fair Licensing.


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