Imagine you’re an Instagram influencer or personal blogger. You make money from the images you create and spend hours editing them, coming up with the perfect caption or topic for your content and releasing it at just the ideal time to get the most engagement. Maybe you don’t even need to imagine. Whether you’ve got a thousand followers or a million, the issue of intellectual property protection is something you should be aware of and take into consideration.
Many creators earn revenue or pay their bills by putting their personal brand out there and collaborating with companies on campaigns or projects, meaning any customer confusion or misinterpretation devalues their unique images and reputations. Image theft is therefore one of the biggest threats to influencers, because it prevents them from being able to build a consistent and trustworthy online persona for themselves. When their creations are misused and placed in unauthorised locations, they have no control over how their content is being taken advantage of. As a result, there’s a chance these individuals could lose credibility amongst both their audiences and sponsors.
For example, Steph Wilson takes pride in her blog (www.scribbledbysteph.co.uk) and dedicates hours to taking and adjusting photos, designing headers, posting on social media to engage readers and sourcing images online to use in her posts. Without imagery, she feels her writing would be far less exciting and her readership would suffer if she were to only use text.
When working with companies on press launches, product reviews and the like, photographs are often a focal point of the content to provide context and show authenticity. For instance, when writing about the launch of a new local pantomime in collaboration with JAM Marketing, Steph used her own photography, alongside professional images to showcase the cast and give her audience a sense of why the performance would be worth watching. If someone were to take these photographs from her website and change their meaning, not only would this be detrimental to the photographer who produced the professional images, but most likely prevent the PR/marketing agency involved from working with Steph again.
The other side of this story is that independent online creators cannot always take their own photographs for every piece of content they publish and rely on image libraries such as Google Images, stock websites, and photographers’ portfolios. For example, when Steph references an event she didn’t attend or a product she hasn’t purchased, she often needs to use images that have been published by a third party. As a result, there’s a chance she could be infringing on someone else’s image rights or accidentally misusing content. Creatives and influencers are not always well versed on the complexities of intellectual property regulations and don’t have time to scour the web for images that they can be certain are free to use.
That’s why the team at Veritent are doing what we’re doing. We want to simplify the process of image protection for influencers and content producers, so they know where their shots are being reposted and can be assured they’re not breaking any copyright rules themselves. The system we’re developing will put control in the hands of creators, giving them the power to track their images and actually do something about it. Check out what we’re doing here.