A bit of relief for Media Professionals

Media professionals are always in great need of innovative material for editorial usage; stills, motion, sound files. And they need it quickly. Often, as we all know (with a sigh) the resources available are beyond our budgets and the available offerings fall short of the creative vision we have.

Increasingly, we are seeing distributors of visual/auditory media introducing Public Domain collections of media. One such new offering is The Public Domain Project over at Pond5.

We took a spin through the collection and found wonderful, eclectic images, clips and music tracks(many with that lovely ‘crack and pop’ of vinyl!), easily searchable. Beware, its a good place to fall down the rabbit hole on a Wednesday morning!

As valuable as the material is for a project, Pond5 has a clear tutorial to lay out guidelines. They cover usage and questions surrounding trademark, releases, copyright. Public Domain, Creative Commons do not always mean free without permissions, attribute and in some cases negotiated usage fees and the onus is on the end user to completely clear rights.

Within the guidelines, much creativity and fun is to be had while telling your story:


Spring 2017 Photo Fever

It’s time to get outside and see the blooms! Check out some of the Photo Workshops and Festivals happening this spring (and a bit beyond). This is just a sampling, drop us a line with your favorite, we would love to add it to the list.

Date stamped on verso: Mar 9 1939.
Work Projects Administration Poster Collection (Library of Congress).
Poster for the Sioux City Camera Club’s second annual exhibition of photographs at the Community Federal Art Center, Sioux City, Iowa, showing stylized man at a camera. Public Domain

  • Photography Farm – 27th – 28th of March in Brighton, UK and again on 30th – 31st of March in Glasgow, UK.
  • Smashing Conference – Okay, not EXACTLY Photo based, but very interesting looking. Developers, designers, Front End insights, UX experts. April 4th – 5th, San Francisco, USA.
  • FeatherFest 2017 – Just missed NANPA? Get your nature fix this April 6th – 9th, Galveston Island, USA.
  • Photoshop World  –  No description necessary. April 20th, Orlando, Florida, USA.
  • PEP Asia 2017 event –  April 21st – 24th, in Mumbai, India.
  • Connect 2017 – An established must see photo festival. May 7th – 12th, Palm Springs, USA.
  • Comtemphoto – for your inner academic. May 12th, 13th, Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Santa Fe workshops have some enticing offerings, ranging from Basics of Digital Photography with Rick Allred to a Workshop for Women which combines mediums, words and images.

For your calendar later in the year:

Guess its time to book some travel!


Researching? It is all a buffet!

Pixabay, a Creative Commons CC0 site, just launched this intuitive, fun search tool.

If you know how to use Google Maps, it will be very easy to find a particular Pixabay image with picsbuffet. Try it out – they are looking for feedback on this new type of image search.

In our real environment, we “navigate” visually. In a supermarket, we quickly recognize where certain products are to be found: we first get an overview, go to the appropriate shelf, then search for the desired product and usually find it. We also know this hierarchical search principle from car navigation services. For searching images or products on the Internet however, such approaches so far do not exist. Picsbuffet is a new exploratory image search system to find Pixabay’s images easily.

In order to make this image exploration possible, all images are visually arranged on an “image map” according to their similarities. The currently displayed section of the map can be interactively modified by dragging and zooming with your mouse: more similar images are displayed by zooming in and zooming out provides an overview of thematically related image concepts.

After entering keywords for a search, a region with appropriate results is displayed: The heat map in the upper left corner shows the regions where the corresponding pictures can be found. Clicking on the heat map or on one of the five images below the heat map will jump to the corresponding region. If you click on an image its preview image and a link to the Pixabay page will be shown. Alternatively, you can start a new search for similar images.

Picsbuffet offers two views: in 2D mode – as the following screenshot shows – all images are displayed in square shape, the 3D view, which we already know, offers more overview, by displaying the images in a perspective view.

If you have found a region with images that you like, you can share this view (like these sunsets) by sending the current URL of the website.

The current version of picsbuffet works best with latest desktop browsers, a version for mobile devices is in development. Soon it will also be possible to search for images similar to an example image that you can provide.

Picsbuffet was designed and implemented by the Visual Computing Group at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences (HTW Berlin). Using a neural network, all images are automatically analyzed with regard to their content and appearance, which can be described very compactly with only 64 bytes per image. In a second step, these image descriptors then are used to arrange all images according to their similarity on a 2D image map. This is done with a hierarchical Self-Organizing Map (SOM). Further information and other demos, e.g. for automatic tagging of images, can be found on the Visual Computing Group website.

Want to see more? Here is a step by step video showing a search:

Homer Sykes – British Customs and US Street Photography

by Julian Jackson

Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire, England 1973

Homer Sykes started as a photographer by grabbing his father’s camera and shooting in the backstreets of Nice in France, where they were holidaying in the 1960s. Streetlife and cultures of the UK have remained a major feature of his work. He is almost an anthropologist who instead of studying distant cultures, turns a penetrating gaze on our own people here in Britain. Street photography of the USA is another major strand of his work.

After his first teenage images of backstreets France won a local newspaper competition, he decided that social documentary photography was going to be his genre. In 1967 went to the prestigious London College of Printing (LCP) to study photography under Jorge Lewinski, Bill Jay and David Hurn, the Magnum photographer.

In 1969 he then went on the first of four photographic road trips round the USA. When his money ran out he briefly served as a janitor for Princeton University. It was there he first realised the power of documentary photography when he saw the work of Cartier-Bresson, Garry Winograd, Lee Friedlander, Bruce Davidson at the Museum of Modern Art. He thought that similar, important work should be done in the UK.

Homer says, “It was from those great photographers I learnt the mechanics of photography, not the technical processes, but the aesthetics of creating powerful images, which I used in my own images. When I left college in 1971 Bill Jay had started Creative Camera Magazine, which was at the forefront of independent, freethinking photography, looking at Britain similarly to US street photography.”

An English “sunrise” motif in a cafe Southend on Sea, Essex. England. 2006. Baileys Fish and Chip shop.

Although he had always liked black & white, he was using colour film, but realised that monochrome was superior for his type of imaging. At that time the main outlet in the UK for this sort of work was the colour supplements of the three upmarket newspapers The Times, The Telegraph and The Observer.

He had some pictures published in Creative Camera, and this led to his first joint exhibition in London in 1971 with images from Benjamin Stone (a Victorian photographer) and his contemporary Tony Ray Jones at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts).

After his second US road trip in 1971 he got married, and the necessities of earning a regular income meant he did a lot of editorial work in the UK, as well as creating his personal depiction of “UK customs” – which does include people hunting foxes in red coats, but all sorts of other cultural phenomena such a punk rock, musicians, the Notting Hill Riots, mining communities, and all types of other, some would say oddball, British pastimes. “Once a Year: Some Traditional British Customs” is his compilation of eccentric customs, first published in 1977, which was republished last year by Dewi Lewis Publishing – including more images than the original edition.

Druids celebrate the summer solstice at Stonehenge Wiltshire June 21st dawn sunrise. England. Perform traditional rituals and rites.

For the last 15 years or so he has been updating and collating his archive, with 17,500 edited images online, and regularly publishing books on his chosen subjects. His book “On the Road Again” documents 30 years of his penetrating, yet whimsical social documentary pictures of American street life.

Evanston Wyoming USA 1971. Two young cowboys, preparing for a rodeo in the car park. One sits on a horse saddle that is on the ground and pretends he is on a horse while another lights a cigarette sitting in the trunk of their automobile.

Suddenly the New Romantics of the London Blitz Club scene in 1980s are having a media revival. These music and fashionistas were a reaction against the grunge of punk at the time. A French publisher is reissuing his collection from the 1980s in March, launching a book called Blitz Club Blitz Kids1980.

Homer is using a digital camera these days. He regards this as an advantage as there is none of the worrying about exposure. “You can have more freedom, be more spontaneous, without having to worry about the cost of film.” He continues to find new British customs to photograph, and is also retracing his steps and rephotographing ones he covered in the past.

To find out more, visit his website here.


Julian Jackson is a writer with extensive experience of picture research, whose main interests include photography and the environment. Julian also runs a Picture Research by Distance Learning Course. View his portfolio, or connect with him on Linked-in.

PICHA – Do you speak Swahili?

Many thanks to Josiane Faubert, Founder and Managing Partner of
PICHA-Stock for taking some time to talk with us about this important new offering to the stock photography world.

©DudefromSA @PICHA

Diversity and Authenticity – the need to have visual media accurately reflect the world has perhaps never been so urgent and necessary. Tell us about yourself and how PICHA Stock came to be:
PICHA, is a RF stock photo library specialized in Africa. I started PICHA in 2014 because I felt we needed better representation of Africa in this industry. I am from Gabon and from France and I was always frustrated when trying to find contemporary images of Africans, so I started PICHA with my own collection and now we have contributors from South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Morocco. My goal is to be able to get contributors from all over Africa.
What is your process for sourcing and working with your photographers to create relevant imagery? Are they exclusively from Africa or do you work with photographers internationally?

We work with photographers internationally, although our sourcing efforts are dedicated to photographers on the African continent. We get a lot of referrals, people who refer photographers they know/love, and we also scout social media a lot to see what people are producing. Word of mouth and social media are key for us.

There is also an investment in time educating on what works and what is relevant in the stock industry.


The RF business model is certainly the prevailing and most popular at the moment. Sustaining and growing business with lower price points has got to be a challenge – Where do you see PICHA Stock in the market place and how do you plan to firmly establish the collection?

Finding the right balance is a big challenge. The RF model makes things easier for buyers and is becoming the norm. Surviving in this market means finding ways to differentiate yourself. PICHA is very different, we focus exclusively on Africa. Our goal is to show Africa in many ways, especially the modern Africa. PICHA has been growing and buyers especially in Africa are starting to embrace PICHA too.

Distribution is such a vital cornerstone for any collection – what are your plans for reaching markets outside Africa?

PICHA is very careful with other channels of distribution. We have been talking with a few other agencies but we value agencies who can really see PICHA’s collection with real added value, and not just another source for more photos. We are testing a few partnerships at the moment.

Tell us about some of your favorite photos in the collection.

Recently we showcased a few photos for Valentine’s Day and they were quite funny, people’s engagement on social media during valentine’s day quite high.

I am normally fond of images that depict ‘everyday workers’, people who have small shops or who sell on the street. I feel like everyday workers are the soul of any city.

©Adama Traore @PICHA

What else would you like the readers to know about PICHA Stock?

PICHA means ‘image’ in Swahili and it is a collection of warm and rich photos of Africa. PICHA is very young and very dynamic. If you are looking for something original and out of the ordinary, PICHA is the site to check.

Gado Images – Both Preserving History and Monetizing It

Guest post by Michael Masterson

Thomas Smith is Co-founder and CEO of Gado Images, a San Francisco-based company that works with archives worldwide to help them digitize and monetize their visual history. Gado’s partner collections include Johns Hopkins University, the Afro American Newspapers, Silicon Valley Historical Association, Stuart Lutz Historic Documents, and many more.

Since it’s Black History month, your motivation for founding Gado in 2010 is particularly relevant.

My background is in cognitive science and cultural anthropology. Before founding Gado Images, I was working on an oral history project in East Baltimore, Maryland. We were gathering valuable interviews, but we couldn’t find any historical images to illustrate the neighborhood we were studying. At first, I thought the images simply didn’t exist. Then one day, I joined a researcher from Johns Hopkins University on a visit to the Afro American Newspapers. The Afro is the longest continuously operating, family-owned African-American newspaper in the world. Founded in the 1890s by a former slave, the paper has been around for over 120 years.

What I found at their Baltimore headquarters was an archive of 1.5 million photographs, including thousands of photos of the neighborhood I was studying. The Afro’s collection has been called among the best African-American history archives in the world, but the resources simply weren’t there to digitize it; when I visited, only about 5,000 images had been digitized in the paper’s entire history.

Colorized portrait of an African-American woman c.1915. Credit: JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado

I co-founded Gado Images to help organizations like the Afro digitize and monetize their archives. We ultimately worked with the paper to scan about 120,000 images from their collection. More than 11,000 are now online and generating revenue for the paper. Since 2010, we’ve expanded tremendously. We now work with institutions, photographers and collectors worldwide, and provide a turnkey service for anyone who wants to digitize, annotate and monetize their archives.

Marian Anderson during a press conference, 1953. Credit: Afro American Newspapers/Gado.

Gado digitizes and creates metadata using the CMP (Cognitive Metadata Platform) for all different types of media. Tell us about the process.

The Cognitive Metadata Platform (CMP)™ is our proprietary platform for annotating our partners’ imagery. CMP uses neural networks, natural language processing, and facial recognition to automatically find and tag significant people, places, and objects in our images. The process begins when our partner archives submit new images. As soon as the images come in, the CMP begins by using facial recognition to check them for major personalities, pulling from a database of over 60,000 personalities, both historical and contemporary.

The system then uses Optical Character Recognition to pull any text out of the image. This can be crucial; at the Afro, for example, most images had typed or handwritten notes from the original photographer pasted on the back. The CMP can read these notes automatically. It can even pull text from street signs or other sources in the image itself.

Finally, the CMP uses object/landmark recognition to find important objects (like cars or buildings), specific landmarks (like the Statue of Liberty or Venice’s Bridge of Sighs), and brands (like a Coca Cola bottle or Wells Fargo logo) in each image.

Once all these inputs are in place, the CMP uses natural language processing to condense them into a list of marketplace-ready keywords. It can even automatically write a sentence-length caption for each image. Of course, the CMP can also take in metadata from human captioners; we have a professional captioning team who add additional metadata and research to many of our images.

The end results are images that are better tagged, more searchable and more valuable on commercial licensing marketplaces.

How do you handle distribution and monetization?

We work with 20+ marketplaces worldwide to distribute and monetize our partners’ content. These include partnerships with leading media organizations including Getty Images, Alamy, and Universal Images Group, as well as niche marketplaces like Sheet Music Plus. Once our partners’ content is online, we actively promote it to image buyers and photo editors.

We pride ourselves on our free research capabilities and we can generally turn around research requests from image buyers within 24 hours. If we don’t have a particular image in our collection, we often actually acquire an original print of the image or artifact, digitize it at our lab here in San Francisco, and have imagery available to the buyer in 7-10 days. We work with all kinds of formats, from early glass plate negatives to mid-century ephemera to 8mm Kodachrome films. This means that we always have new, unique materials available for creatives worldwide.

What sort of unique content do you have in your partner collections?

We have strong coverage of African-American history, from pre-history through slavery, the American Civil War, turn-of-the-century African-American life, Civil Rights, 20th century African-American entertainers, and even contemporary images of movements like Black Lives Matter.

We also have strong coverage of medical/scientific topics, including thousands of electron micrographs, public health materials, and unique medical imagery from the Special Collections of the Johns Hopkins University. Other topic areas include the Vietnam War, 20th century Americana, California history, and military history.

Bumper sticker for Vietnam War protest march ca 1969. Credit: Stuart Lutz/Gado

Finally, how are you working with universities and other institutions through your Digital Humanities Consulting?

Through our Digital Humanities practice, we work with large organizations to develop digitization and monetization programs for their collections. We do everything from evaluating collections for their commercial potential, to recommending equipment, to developing training materials for organizations’ own staff, to placing our staff members with partner organizations to help kickstart their digitization efforts.

Our Digital Humanities services make us a true turnkey operation; even if a partner′s collections are entirely unprocessed, we can work with them to transform their materials into a modern, digital, fully-annotated archive which is used around the world and generates revenue to support their organization’s mission.


Michael Masterson has a broad range of experience in marketing, business development, strategic planning, contact negotiations and recruiting in the photography, graphic design and publishing industries. In addition to his long experience at the Workbook and Workbookstock, Masterson owned and was creative director of his own graphic design firm for several years. Masterson has been a speaker or panelist at industry events such as Seybold, PhotoPlus Expo, Visual Connections and the Picture Archive Council of America (PACA) national conference. He is past national president of the American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP). He currently heads Masterson Consulting, working on projects ranging from business development for creative companies and sourcing talent for them to promoting and marketing industry events as well as providing resume and professional profile services for job-seekers. He can be reached at michaeldmasterson@gmail.com.

Memory Lane with Vintage Stock Photos

In its section “Street Scenes”, stock photo agency Vintage Stock Photos features an intriguing image of titled “Native American Group on Float”; and it’s a classic representation of old-town Americana; with what appears to be a group of “Native American Indians” on a carnival float, complete with the legend “Heap Big Medicine Man.” Whether the group are really Native American, or Caucasian folk with a little tea-tanning, it’s certainly decades, and worlds, away from the shifting identity politics of contemporary America.

Native Indian Group Performs on towed float During Parade

Regardless of the origins, it’s a wonderful insight into an era long one; as are many other stock images in the collection, whether it be bikes chained up to railings in Amsterdam; a stunning collection of woven baskets in Greece; or mopeds circling the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

As Vintage Stock Photos observes about its collection: “We’ve all been there. An old photo – family snapshot or thrift store discard – catches your eye and you can’t look away. The image is technically a hot mess but there’s an essential, visceral appeal about the subject – a faded person or place that unexpectedly and elegantly captures a lost moment. This happens a lot around here and we fall in love with the blurry, scratched, grainy, misfit images depicting life in the middle of the 20th century.

We started Vintage Stock Photos to sell some of these great images. People loved the images, but sales were slow and it’s hard to be a niche stock site, so we decided to give away the image collection for free.”

Woman standing in front of a stall selling woven baskets, Greece

Yes, you read that last bit correctly. In a world where we try to monetize the last few pixels of every IP, Vintage Stock Photos seems so love in with their own material that they just want you to use it.

And who wouldn’t love this stuff? In “Vintage People” we get fascinating shots such as a group of (unintentionally scary. Yikes!) kids in “Halloween Costumes,” and Bugs Bunny has never looked more menacing. In “Vintage Cities and Towns” we can see the two towers of the World Trade Center dominate a 70s skyline. In “Landmarks and Attractions” we are awed by the sight of Devil’s Tower, Wyoming, before Steven Spielberg had his aliens land there.

Group of children posing in their Halloween costumes, USA

It’s a wonderful, technicolor trip down memory lane.

The photos come from collections acquired by Vintage Stock Photos; who own the original transparencies for all images. Transparencies are scanned, then post processed and key worded. They archive the original scan and output a resized jpg file for distribution. They are so accommodation, that if you feel the version they’ve posted is too small or too processed, you can get in touch with them, and they may be able to rescan, resize or reprocess the image.

New York City skyline from the East River, Vintage Lower Manhattan

The images may be used in commercial projects such as websites, advertising, books, videos, and other commercial presentations. If you can give credit to the site, they certainly appreciate it, but credit is not required. You may not, however, repackage, redistribute, or claim ownership of the images.

That means you can’t resell or profit from a reprinting of our photos. This would qualify as “redistribution” and is not allowed (but they may negotiate an extended license, where appropriate).

A simple login allows you full access to download any photos on the site at no charge.

For further details, take a virtual ‘road trip’ into the surreal, the wacky and the poignant, at:


Breaking News

We are all familiar with Marshall McLuhan’s observation that “The medium is the message”; and the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center offers the chance for us to reassess this, with a curated show of museum artworks dating back to the early days of when we began to notice the media “strings showing” for the first time.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, it’s an unashamed embrace given to old-school media analysis, featuring seminal work from the sixties onwards. The Vietnam War, of course, plays a major part in this (the first time that the realities of war where ever brought home to an American public used to being protected from too graphic collateral imagery from previous conflicts); but the exhibition moves ever forward; through the Reagan years; to media (non) coverage of the terrors of the Rwandan genocide; right up to that iconic photograph of Obama and Clinton hunkered down in the White House operations room.

All of these eras pass through the objectifying gaze of artists, who appropriate, juxtapose, manipulate, subvert and decode media constructions. It’s no surprise that, as a historical survey show, it features the likes of Dara Birnbaum, Antoni Muntadas, Robert Heinecken, Donald Blumberg and Alfredo Jaar.

According to the Getty press release:

Photographs have helped shape people’s perceptions of current events since the late-nineteenth century. The ubiquity of newspapers, magazines, and televised news during the mid-twentieth century gave rise to the modern mass media culture, eventually spawning critical discourse from a variety of perspectives.

“The timeliness of this exhibition could not be greater. With the recent election still at the forefront of national and international news, it is timely to showcase how contemporary artists have, over recent decades, focused on mass media as a rich source of provocative subject matter that reveals its agendas even as it insists on its objectivity,” says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “In their need both to represent and to give meaning to their subjects, art and journalism have much in common, and can even feed off each other, as this exhibition demonstrates.”

It’s a riveting exhibition; that spans the faces of our times (Donald Blumberg’s Television Abstractions, 1968-1969 (1968-69) and Television Political Mosaics, 1968-1969 (1968-69), feature politicians Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and George Wallace as seen on evening broadcasts); the events of our time (Jaar’s artwork Searching for Africa in LIFE (1996), collects every cover of Life magazine from 1936 onwards; only five covers in this period ever featured the continent of Africa…); and even nods to the rapid increase of 24-hour news cycles (Catherine Opie’s In and Around Home, displays rapidly-increasing hand-held Polaroids taken of news events on her television screen, between 2004 and 2005).

In a time when both TV and newspapers seems in thrall to “shock and awe” political theatrics; and we are now contemplating the terrifying but apparently real existence of “alternative facts”; this could not be a timelier mediation on the prism of how we mainline our politics through the organs of the media.

Breaking News: Turning the Lens on Mass Media, is on view until April 30, 2017 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center.

Can’t hop on the 405 to see the show? Check out this excellent bit on NPR by Susan Stamberg :http://www.npr.org/2017/01/31/511792813/breaking-news-artists-use-mass-media-as-their-medium

Your new retoucher…Siri?

Fear of automation is not new; ever since Czech author Karel Čapek first coined the word “robot” in 1920, nearly a century ago, in his play ”R.U.R.,” we have both marveled and feared about the advent of mechanical inventions that could take over our basic motor and cognitive functions, and replace us in the workplace.

After all, we have seen it happen in the auto-plants of America in the 70s; when cars began to be more efficiently and economically built by robots. Since then, automation has taken over many other aspects of our lives; from packaging eggs, through to replacing traffic cops at intersections.

In 2017, in a new American world, riven by fears of globalization, we’re all kind of scared that even our taxis will be driven by faceless digital interfaces in this decade.

That’s kind of okay (and might even spare us those dull taxi-driver conversations on the way home), but what happens when “robots” take over the creative stuff too; that which was supposed to be the last resort for the creative middle-class, who believed themselves to be irreplaceable?

Sure, we might lament that supermarket check-out clerks, or hotel receptionists, are being replaced in face-to-face service industries; but isn’t the creative class secure that all of those (expensive) art school and photography school lessons would count for something unique, and employable, down the line?

Well, hang on to your hats, ladies and gentleman, because in what could be the most horrifying story ever, it seems that Adobe is, Frankenstein-like, stitching together a digital creature that might be able to replace… wait for it… a photo editor.

In a recent video, it seems that there might be a new digital sheriff in town. According to Adobe:

Adobe Research “is exploring what an intelligent digital assistant photo editing might look like,” the research team wrote in the introduction to the YouTube video. “To envision this, we combined the emerging science of voice interaction with deep understanding of both creative workflows and the creative aspirations of our customers.

So what are we to make of this? Are our robot overlords finally going to render us obsolete?

Firstly, if we examine the complete extent of the new capabilities of this ‘terrifying’ development; we can see that it doesn’t go much beyond cropping, reversing,… and basically doing what we all did, when we first logged in to our first Photoshop tutorial. It’s hardly reinventing the wheel.

As such, it seems that photo interns will have at least few more years in the photo industry, before they are forced to find unpaid (but ultimately rewarding) labor in street theater, or non-profit eco-groups.

But let’s give Adobe their due: they are working on improving the capabilities of this software, to replace everybody in their own creative industry but the photographer (and maybe that too?), over time. As they state:

“Our speech recognition system is able to directly accept natural user voice instructions for image editing either local through on-device computer or through a cloud-based Natural Language understanding service. This is the first step towards a robust multimodal voice-based interface which allows our creative customers to search and edit images in an easy and engaging way.”

But, as of yet, this Siri assistant isn’t able to even dodge and burn a print, or do much more than flip and crop it.

Let’s be glad that Siri can’t, yet, work to the same specifications as if Annie Leibowitz was stood over your shoulder, demanding that some of someone’s turkey neck be smoothed out for Vanity Fair; or Ansel Adams was demanding a little more “contrast” on a snowcapped mountain top; or Weegee wanted a little darker blood on that murder scene.

We are all scared about the future; but let’s, at least, celebrate the stability of photo assistants. Let’s face it, can a digital interface run out for a latte at 9am?

Notice of Survey on Qualities and Priorities of New Register of Copyrights

From Nancy Wolff, DMLA Counsel

The new Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, has started the process of searching for a new Register of Copyrights after removing Maria Pallante as Register on October 21, 2016. DMLA, as well as the other visual artist associations, had worked with the former Register Pallante for six years on issues involving photography and the visual arts, and most recently on copyright modernization and potential legislation for a copyright small claims court in line with recommendations from the Copyright Office.

In an unprecedented move, the Library is seeking public comment by January 31, 2017 on the qualifications for the next Register of Copyrights: https://www.research.net/r/RegisterOfCopyrightsNR

Although this crowd sourcing approach to a government appointment is highly unusual, we encourage all interested parties to participate and to share this blog with any contributors, so the views of the licensing community and creators can be heard. From past experience we know that the tech community is very effective at organizing and sending the Copyright Office an overwhelming number of responses to copyright inquiries, and their interests in a Register would favor less copyright protection for creators.

The survey is not long and is limited to a few simple questions—namely, what qualities the Register should possess, what issues he or she should focus on, and what other factors should be considered. We encourage you to complete the survey before the January 31, 2017 deadline and distribute it widely.

DMLA has provided model responses to each of the survey’s questions based on suggestions from the Copyright Alliance. You are free to use all or some of these responses or provide your own responses. As the survey offers no background on what the responsibilities of the Register are or what public function the Copyright Office serves here is a link to background information on the role and responsibilities of the Copyright Office.

What are the knowledge, skills, and abilities you believe are the most important for the Register of Copyrights?

The next Register of Copyrights must:

  • Be dedicated to both a robust copyright system and the Copyright Office;
  • Recognize the important role that creators of copyrighted works and their representatives play in promoting our nation’s financial well-being;
  • Be a lawyer with significant experience in, and a strong commitment to, the copyright law;
  • Have management experience;
  • Have a substantial background in representing the interests of creators and their representatives;
  • Possess a deep appreciation for the special challenges facing individual creators and their licensing representatives in protecting works and encouraging licensing models over infringement;
  • Possess a keen understanding of, and a strong commitment to, preserving the longstanding and statutorily-based functions of the Copyright Office, especially its advising the House and Senate Judiciary Committees on domestic and international copyright issues;
  • Be an advocate within the government for creators and their licensing representatives (as no other agency plays this role);
  • Have a vision for the Copyright Office of the future that supports the work of creators and is generally consistent with the views espoused by Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers in their November 2016 policy proposal;
  • Be committed to modernizing the IT infrastructure of the Copyright Office;
  • Have the solid support of the copyright community.

What should be the top three priorities for the Register of Copyrights?

  1. Continue the traditional and critical role of the Register as a forceful advocate for both a vibrant copyright system and a strong Copyright Office that works closely with the House and Senate Judiciary Committees in promoting a strong and effective copyright law.
  2. A commitment to moving quickly to modernize the Copyright Office with a special focus on updating and making more affordable and simpler the registration and recordation process, and to ensure that the Copyright Office and its modernization efforts are financed by means other than just registration and recordation fees.
  3. Working with Congress to achieve enactment of legislation creating a small claims process that finally provides creators and their representatives with a viable means of protecting their creative efforts and encouraging a licensing system rather than unauthorized use.

Are there other factors that should be considered?


The process of selecting the next Register must not be limited to responses in a single survey, as the importance of a qualified Register to the livelihood of creators and the industries that rely on a functioning Copyright Office and system is too important to be decided by crowd sourcing, particularly as anyone can respond to a survey, regardless of their experience as a user of the Copyright Office. It is also important that the views of the leaders of House and Senate Judiciary Committees, current Copyright Office staff, copyright practitioners, and former Registers be taken into account in the selection of the next Register.