Power to the artist

“Yeah, we found the photo on Google Images and published it on our site. Can we keep using it if we give credit?”

“We don’t have a budget for photography. How about a free subscription to our magazine?”

“We’ve never paid for a photo, and we aren’t going to pay for this one, either.”

It’s been nearly six months since we invited several hundred artists to join our private beta at Pixsy. Since then, we’ve helped hundreds of creators monitor the presence of their work online and, when necessary, obtain reimbursement for unauthorized use. The statements above summarize many of the responses we receive when invoicing for unauthorized image use. They aren’t from mom bloggers or average Joes who don’t know better. They represent the prevailing view of how many publishing houses, Fortune 500 companies, and other businesses feel artists ought to be treated.

Artists deserve more than polite indifference and false gestures. At Pixsy, we envision something different. We’ve built a tool that lets visual artists discover when, where, and how their work is utilized online. When artists encounter use for which permission should have been sought or a license fee paid, we can act on their behalf to make things right.

What have we found so far?

  • A painting printed on the packaging of a local coffee brand. The artist had no idea.
  • A digital photograph printed and sold on canvas by one of the most popular flash sale sites. The photographer didn’t know his work was so popular.
  • A leading architecture firm in Denmark that stole a photo to feature a project. Yes, even award-winning architects steal from Flickr.

When we began work on Pixsy, we didn’t imagine the size or scope of the problem. We’re giving creatives everywhere the tools to control their own work: resources that are no longer restricted to the big guys only. We’re bringing power back to the artist. It’s been an exciting and challenging ride, and it’s only going to get more exciting and challenging as we move along.

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