Tracking Image Licensing Rights – The Universal Solution

[by Roger Feldman]

Image rights holders and image users face a daunting challenge when it comes to managing licensed rights. Each year, untold thousands of rights managed, royalty free, and wholly owned images are licensed and used under vastly different terms and conditions, making the management and tracking of rights over time extremely difficult. Yet the use of an image outside of agreed terms can result in copyright infringement and significant legal damages.

There are numerous digital asset management systems on the market designed to capture and administer content and license detail. And many publishers have built enterprise-level systems that combine content, production and financial management modules. Large or small, personal or corporate, all image users face a common challenge  – the time and cost to effectively manage licenses and ensure copyright compliance often exceeds the cost of the license itself, and the failure to do so carries enormous liability.

To address this challenge, publishers, designers, ad agencies, museums, libraries, colleges,  stock agencies, photographers, illustrators, picture researchers, attorneys and image industry  leaders from over 70 countries came together to form the non-profit PLUS Coalition. Known worldwide simply as PLUS, the acronym stands for Picture Licensing Universal System. The single PLUS mission: “To simplify and communicate the communication and management of image rights.”

To accomplish this mission, PLUS first established international standards for communicating image rights. Next came development of the PLUS Registry – a global resource allowing image users to quickly identify rights holders and rights information for any image. Employing a combination of unique identifiers and image recognition, PLUS Registry users will be able to manage image rights within the Registry or from within any application connected to the Registry.

British trade association EPUK recently published an article  about the PLUS initiative, concluding that the PLUS Registry is:

 “…the largest evolutionary step for the imaging industry since the internet arrived…potentially the largest cooperative in history … radical and profound … If PLUS gets its way, it will be career and life changing for imaging professionals.  The result has become a grand design for a sustainable photographic ecology adapted to the internet age, evolved and refined over a decade of bridge-building and dialogue … PLUS is the only attempt and opportunity to systemically reinvent an environment that no longer works for anyone.”

Through PLUS, all communities engaged in creating, distributing, using and preserving images are for the first time working together on a global scale toward a shared goal.  To learn more about PLUS and to see and use the PLUS Registry as it develops, visit

Roger Feldman is President of Feldman & Associations Inc., America’s largest independent content research and permissions organization.  A longtime member of the American Society of Picture Professionals, Roger has represented ASPP on the PLUS Board of Directors since 2004 and was elected to serve as Chairman of the PLUS board in 2011.

Join Roger and image recognition/search specialist, Leila Boujnane, founder and CEO of Idée Inc. on Wednesday, February 8, from 1:00 – 2:00 pm ET for License Tracking: Systems & Technologies.  Our panelists will take your questions on how to keep track of licenses and link unattributed images with their copyright owners.  Presented as part of The Future of Art & Commerce, a free webinar series jointly produced by the ASMP and CCC.  Click here to register and submit your questions for our panelists.

By Editor | Posted: January 13th, 2012 | No comments


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