Copyright & Law

ImageRights Opens Copyright Registration to Non-Subscribers, Adds Blockchain Record Keeping

September 14, 2017

ImageRights is opening up a dedicated copyright registration service for users who aren’t ImageRights subscribers.

The new service promises a quick copyright registration with software that auto-fills forms and checks for errors. ImageRights says turnaround times average a few weeks versus the six-to-eight months advertised by the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO). Images can be registered through the website or by using the ImageRights Plugin for Adobe Lightroom.

ImageRights is also taking a page out of services like Binded and saving the USCO registration number, date, status and deposit copies into the Bitcoin blockchain. This blockchain record can later be used by photographers to validate their images during an infringement dispute.

Unlike Binded, which only passes on the USCO filing fee and doesn’t add extra charges for copyright registration or blockchain record keeping, ImageRights will charge $99 plus the Copyright Office filing fee.

Joe Naylor, President and CEO of ImageRights, tells us via email that ImageRights’s long history working with the USCO gives them an advantage over rival services. “We have significant experience in registering both unpublished and published content and are familiar with the nuances of what can be registered and how given when and where it was first published,” Naylor says. “So having both the technical capability to automate and simplify the registration process along with the institutional knowledge of recognizing whether or not the registration applications have been submitted correctly and then working with the applicant to ensure everything that needs to be tweaked is done so correctly, is the core value we are providing.”

Naylor also explained how ImageRights is using blockchain technology to help photographers protect their work:

“During the registration process, ImageRights creates a separate document that it calls the ImageRights Deposit Copy Certificate of Warranty. This document, which contains the thumbnails and file names of all of the images submitted with the USCO registration, works in conjunction with the USCO Certificate of Registration. We make a hash of this document and inscribe it into the Bitcoin Blockchain. This is a tool that helps us during an infringement settlement discussion when the other party questions whether or not an image was really covered by the USCO registration certificate that we say it is. We can show them the warranty where they can now see a visual representation of the image (the thumbnail) associated with the USCO Registration number. And to help prove that we didn’t just fabricate the document when they challenged us, we can show that from the blockchain inscription records that this document existed at that date.

Therefore, our deposit copy warranty provides us a way to associate the image with the certificate without the other party having to request the actual deposit copies from the Copyright Office. Of course, if a case were to actually go to trial and the USCO registration was being challenged, then one party or the other would go ahead and request those deposit copies from the USCO anyway. But what we’re providing could help the copyright owner avoid having to go to that step to get the other side to back down on their challenge and facilitate a speedy resolution to the claim.”