Saturday, July 19, 2008

TinEye - Oh My!

I found myself packing up for the day at the Microsoft Pro Photo Summit last week, when I was approached by the co-founder and CEO of Idee - the makers of TinEye, Leila Boujnane. Leila wanted to chat about TinEye's capabilities, as I'd just finished talking about the problems of orphan works, and the image search technologies that were on the horizon, and I mentioned TinEye, among others, during my talk. I'd not tried TinEye, but I had heard of remarkable results by trusted colleagues of mine trying it out. So, it was serendipitous that I was now chatting with Leila.

I wanted very much to try it - it being in beta right now, I just hadn't gotten around to it. Though, just yesterday, on a whim, I clicked the "request an invite" link. A few hours later, I got accepted, and was curious to see the results. Some I expected, others I'm upset about.

(Continued after the Jump)

First, the expected. I looked for the first image that I had on my desktop that had seen the light of day outside of my office. And, as I've done the past two years at the Microsoft Pro Photo Summit, I was a speaker. Part of being a speaker means providing a headshot of myself, and that image was on my desktop. So, it was an easy image to choose.

All I had to do was click the "Upload Image" button, select the file, and TinEye immediately processed the image into it's digital fingerprint.

The results were as I expected. Of the over 701 million images (amongst billions and billions of images on the internet), two authorized versions of my headshot appeared - one when I did blogging for Amazon, and one for my recent talk at WPPI in Las Vegas. Both results were fine by me. Whew, I thought.

Then I got upset.

I thought next to my headshot, what other image might I have made that could be in circulation and was sitting on my desktop. The image that came to mind - and the first one I thought of, was an image of a Harrier jump jet (it can be seen here on the second page, lower left thumbnail corner). A search for that image yielded no results, which wasn't what upset me - it was what happened next. The second image I thought of was an image I had made for a defense contractor for a helicopter that was to be very high profile.

I uploaded my image, and TinEye, in under a tenth-of-a-second, returned my image as a part of a montage on a foreign government's website for their military. I was immediately and simultaneously blown away by TinEye's capabilities - applied in my real-world application, and angry because this was an infringement of my work. Grrrrr.

Next, I penned a brief, and friendly e-mail to my client asking them how this might have happened, and providing them with the URL. I am awaiting their response still.

Oh, and the best part? TinEye is free. They've got a gallery of really cool examples they've found here, but this gallery shows just how many derivations of an image can still be found using TinEye, and TinEye is constantly crawling the web - adding the fingerprints of images to their database at a dizzying rate of 3,000,000 images (give or take a few hundred thousand!) a day.

All around impressive! TinEye is your very own private investigator - scouring the internet for the visual pirates of the high seas and giving you the information to take responsive action.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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UPDIG - Why It Is Important

My literal interpretation of "up" and "dig."
This industry continues to overflow with acronyms. It started with ASA, then we graduated to ISO, then there was APO, then DAM, not to mention all of the associations - NPPA / ASMP / APA / EP / WHNPA / BAPLA / ASPP, and so on and so forth. Why do we need another?

Well, to put it simply - we do - and essentially all the anagrams that represent photographic organizations are on board with UPDIG - UPDIG is short for Universal Photographic Digital Imaging Guidelines.

Before you think you know how to handle your images, stop and think that you might learn a little (but more than likely, a lot) by reading through the information they've put together.
(Continued after the Jump)

Late in the Fall of 2004, David Riecks was tasked by Susan Carr to see about forming a group consensus on digital standards, and the auspicious project was formally started in early 2005 amid a vacuum of information on best practices guidelines for digital imaging. David Riecks, stepped up to created UPDIG's first website, and in the Spring of 2005 Richard Anderson, who is on the national board of ASMP came on-board to organize and write The Guidelines, along with Greg Smith, who is the Business Practices Committee chairman for the NPPA. The consortium continued to grow (see all the organizations that are a part of UPDIG here), as noted on the ASMP website here - "when leaders and representatives of nearly a dozen photographers groups from around the world gathered for a "Digital Summit." They agreed that Guidelines and Best Practices were needed, should be easy to understand, and should offer options for different workflows aimed at different outputs...". APA heralded the effort here "...15 clear and understandable guidelines as well as a best practices document prepared by the the UPDIG working group of photographic international trade organizations...APA is proud to play an active role on the UPDIG working group." Even John Nack of Adobe wrote here "UPDIG describes itself as "A working group of digital imaging professionals and allied trade groups and manufacturers, dedicated to promoting worldwide standards in the commercial application of digital imaging....If that describes your trade, the site is well worth a look."

So, well, what are the 12 guidelines? (Note - there were 15 to start, they were boiled down to 12.) I think you'd be best served to read them directly on the UPDIG site, (here's the executive summary - Quick Guide) and here are the 12 guidelines:
  1. Color Management
    • The best ways to use and embed ICC color profiles (and what they are if you don't know)
  2. Monitor Calibration
    • The importance of hardware calibration and profiling; as well as information on monitor soft-proofing
  3. Color Spaces
    • Understanding the various camera settings for color spaces as well as the color spaces for image editing; offset printing; CMYK conversions; and photo lab prints
  4. File Formats
    • Why should you shoot in your camera's RAW mode; the value of DNG, and the various formats for the web and for printed output
  5. Naming Files
    • Best practices for cross-platform file naming; and avoiding duplicate file names
  6. Resolution
    • How to describe; optimizing for the screen; for inkjet prints; for continuous-tone printing; for offset printing
  7. Sharpening
    • Capture sharpening; process sharpening; sharpening tools; dealing with noise; output sharpening
  8. Metadata
    • IPTC Creator and Copyright; keywords; the importance of metadata

  9. File Delivery
    • Media; methods; file info; ReadMe files

  10. Guide Prints and Proofs
    • Print and proof viewing

  11. Archiving
    • Who; what; where

  12. Workflow
    • Matching to needs; what it should do; choosing the right tools

If you're looking for answers about how to best handle your workflow - This is THE place to start. And since technology evolves, so too will the efforts of the working group to change with the times.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Advanced Common Sense - E-Mail Edition

How much time do you spend on SPAM? I recieve upward of a thousand e-mails a day, and about 2% of those e-mails, I want to read, and maybe 5% I have asked for.

I encourage you to spend an hour of your time watching Merlin Mann give a talk at Google about managing e-mail. (Video for Merlin's "Inbox Zero" talk, 7/25/07). The good folks at Google don't waste a lot of time on numbskulls, and this guy's got an amazing approach to solving your e-mail inbox woes.

By watching the "43 folders" presentation, I spent an hour of my life saving exponentially more down the line by LEARNING about how to manage my e-mail. Inbox Zero is the source.

One citation that Merlin made was about David Allen, and his book - Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity he talks about "Advanced Common Sense" - it could not be any more obvious, but the trouble is we don't always do the obvious.

Processing - that is, doing something, isn't about checking your e-mail, it's about taking action on every e-mail, from deleting it, to responding to it. Yet, the next step is to not respond to 200 e-mails, it's processing them, and decide what it means to you - what actions do I have to take as a result of this e-mail?

Five things can you do with the e-mail:

  • Delete (or archive)
  • Forward/Delegate (give yourself a reminder to make sure the delegated task happened)
  • Reply/Respond
  • Defer - this can be tricky
  • Do - if it's something you can do, do it now.
Your inbox should be for something you haven't read yet.

Now, watch the video.
(Comments, if any, after the Jump)

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Orphan Works - FAQ's

There's a lot going on with Orphan Works behind the scenes. ASMP reported in their member announcement "...the House version of the orphan works bill is expected to go to mark-up very soon, perhaps this week or next," and I have heard that Sen. Sam Brownback has placed a hold on the Senate version of the bill. For how long that hold is, no one knows. That said, both ASMP and I agreed while on stage at the Microsoft Pro Photo Summit last week - and that was that this bill is not likely to make it through the legislative process this session, before dying.

Engraved beneath a statue on the north entrance to the National Archives on Pennsylvania Ave, is the phrase "What is Past is Prologue", and that surely applies to Orphan Works legislation. Whatever changes are affected this session will be fodder for the resurected version of the legislation when everything starts anew in the next session, sometime in January or February. That's one thing you can count on when it comes to Orphan Works. It will rear it's ugly head again and again - it's the werewolf of legislation.

To that end, the Illustrator's Partnership has sent out a missive with a great many Q&A's - their version of a "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) for Orphan Works.

With their permission, I am posting here what they wrote:

We've had word that the House Judiciary Committee may mark-up the Orphan Works Bill this week. This is the session where Committee Members will propose, accept and reject amendments to H.R. 5889. After markup, the bill could be reported out of the House Committee and go to the floor for a vote.

We've submitted several critical amendments for consideration: These would limit the scope of the bill to affect only true orphaned work. Unless such amendments are adopted, we believe the bill should not be reported out until its impact on small businesses can be determined. Here's our summary of the issues at stake in the House version of this bill:
(Continued after the Jump)

Q What is the Orphan Works Act?
A: A proposed amendment to copyright law that would impose a radically new business model on the licensing of copyrighted work.
Q: How would it do that?
A: It would force all creators to digitize their life's work and hand it over to privately-owned commercial databases or see it exposed to widespread infringement by anyone, for any purpose, however commercial or distasteful.
Q: How would it hurt me if I didn't register my work?
A: The bill would let infringers rely on for-profit registries to search for your work. If your work is not in the databases, it's a potential "orphan."
Q: What about my unpublished work?
A: The bill would apply to any work, from professional paintings to family snapshots, home videos, etc., including published and unpublished work and any work ever placed on the internet.
Q: How would these databases work?
A: No one has yet unveiled a business plan, but we suspect they'd operate like stock houses, promoting themselves as one-stop shopping centers for licensing art. If you've registered your work with them, they'll probably charge you maintenance fees and commissions for clearing your work. If you're a publisher or art director, they'll probably charge you search fees. If you're an infringer, they'll probably charge you a search fee and issue orphan certificates for any unregistered work you'd like to infringe. We assume different registries may have different terms, and any start-up terms will of course be subject to change.
Q: How will the bill affect the market for commissioned work?
A: It will be a gold mine for opportunists, favoring giant image banks over working artists. Some companies will probably sell access to orphans as royalty-free work -- or they'll harvest orphans and bundle them for sale as clip art. Other companies can harvest orphans, alter them slightly to make "derivative works" and register the derivatives as their own copyrighted product. Freelancers would then be forced to compete against their own lost art - and that of their colleagues - for the new commissions they need to make a living.
Q: But the bill's sponsors say the bill is just a small adjustment to copyright law.
A: No, it's actually a reversal of copyright law. It presumes that the public is entitled to use your work as a primary right and that it's your legal obligation to make your work available.
Q: But isn't the House bill an improvement over the Senate version?
A: Only for those who intend to operate commercial databases. These registries will exist to make money. To make money, they'll have to do a lively business in clearing work for infringements. That means making their databases infringer-friendly.
Q: But isn't the House bill better because it requires an infringer to file a Notice of Use, documenting their intent to infringe?
A: The House bill creates a very low threshold for infringers to meet. They'd only have to file a text description (not the image itself) of the work they want to infringe, plus information about their search and any ownership information they've found.
Q: But won't that let artists consult the archive to see if their work has been infringed?
A: No, as currently written, the Notice of Use is a dark archive, which means you won't have access to it. If someone infringes your work and has filed a Notice of Use, you wouldn't know about it.
Q: Then how would I know if my work is in the Dark Archive?
A: You wouldn't, unless a.) you discover you've been infringed; b.) you sue the infringer in federal court; c.) the infringer asserts an Orphan Works defense. Then you can file a request to see if the infringer has filed a Notice of Use to infringe your work.
Q: Then what good does it do me for the infringer to file a Notice of Use?
A: It's of no probative value to you at all unless you go to court. And if you do, you'd better be sure of winning because otherwise, without the possibility of statutory damages and attorneys' fees, it will be too expensive for you to sue. If the Notice of Use helps anyone, it actually helps the infringer: it lets him prove in court that he followed the prescribed protocol to "legally" infringe your work.
Q: Then shouldn't we ask Congress to change the Dark Archive to an open one?
A: This would still place an impossible burden on you. Can you imagine routinely slogging through a "lost and found" containing millions of text descriptions of works to see if something sounds like one of the hundreds or thousands of illustrations you may have done?
Q: So should the infringement archive be changed to display images rather than text descriptions?
A: If so, you'd have a come-and-get-it archive for new infringers to exploit works that have already been identified as orphans by previous infringers.
Q: The bill's sponsors say the House version includes specific instructions on the requirements for diligent searches.
A: No, read the bill. It's full of ambiguous terms like "reasonable" and "diligent" that can only be decided by courts on a case-by-case basis. That could take a decade of expensive lawsuits and appeals. How many millions of copyrights will be orphaned before we learn how the courts ultimately define these vague terms?
Q: Then what can we do to improve this bill?
A: We don't believe the bill can be patched up to mitigate its harm to creators. The Orphan Works matter should be solved with carefully defined expansions of fair use to permit reproduction by libraries and archives, or for family photo restoration and duplication. Narrow exceptions like these would also meet the needs of other orphan works usage without violating artists' rights as defined by the 1976 Copyright Act, The Berne Convention and Article 13 of the TRIPs Agreement. These copyright-related international trade treaties are not just a matter of law. They codify longstanding business practices that have passed the test of time.
Q: What can we do now to oppose this legislation?
A: If you're opposed to the House bill in its current form, contact members of the full House Judiciary Committee. Ask them to adopt our amendments limiting the scope of the bill to affect only true orphaned work. Tomorrow, we'll email you a short basic letter which you may use as a template.
--Brad Holland and Cynthia Turner, for the Board of the Illustrators' Partnership

Over 60 organizations are united in opposing this bill in its current form. Illustrators, photographers, fine artists, songwriters, musicians, and countless licensing firms all believe this bill will harm their small businesses.

Don't Let Congress Orphan Your Work
To use the Orphan Works Opposition Website just go to this link, put in your zip code and follow the instructions. Your letters will be addressed and sent automatically. It takes less than 2 minutes to fight for your copyright.

The Illustrator's Partnership has asked that you please post or forward this message in its entirety to any interested party.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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