Founded 10 years ago by Joe Naylor and Ted VanCleave, ImageRights is a copyright protection and enforcement platform that uses AI-driven scanning technology to track copyrighted material online, in addition to offering access to international legal services and an automated copyright registration process.
The company recently announced an agreement with cartoon and comics publishing syndicate Andrews McMeel Universal, which will use ImageRights’ search and copyright enforcement services to protect AMU-licensed comics and cartoon materials. AMU publishes and syndicates such comic strips as Peanuts, Garfield, and Calvin and Hobbes.
AMU CEO Les Hinmon said, “ImageRights is helping us to continue to bring entertainment to people’s lives, while helping to protect against infringement and the devaluation of the underlying creative assets.” He cited the “creativity and originality of our creators’ cartoons and comics, which is why copyright infringement is very concerning.”
ImageRights services, Naylor said, are primarily focused on photography and 2-D images. The firm targets as clients photo agencies and individual photographers. He added that the company has agreements with about 40 photo agencies to track the works of their photographers, in addition to helping 4,000 to 5,000 individual photographers who signed on to the service online. Fees for individual photographers range from about $350–$588 a year, based on the number of images submitted for protection. Agencies and large companies are able to negotiate with the company for a different range of fees.
ImageRights offers three categories of service: discovery (or tracking images), recovery (legal claims against infringers), and automated copyright registration, a service that it claims speeds up the process of registering images with the U.S. Copyright Office for individual clients. Once clients sign on to ImageRights, Naylor explained, they upload photos or other images to the firm’s image search engine, where they are each assigned a unique identifier. The image search then uses proprietary AI-driven webcrawling technology to track these images wherever they appear online. The subsequent search results (including the domains where the images are found) are analyzed, to determine how the images are being used.
When infringement or misappropriation of copyrighted material is found, ImageRights compliance teams handle claims in the U.S. or refer international cases to a network of law firms in Europe and Australia—firms it partners with to pursue compensation or reach a settlement in the jurisdictions where the misuse occurs.
Naylor’s background is in technology startups, and he launched ImageRights with VanCleave, who is a professional photographer. Another ImageRights client is Playboy magazine. Although photography is ImageRights’ focus, Naylor acknowledged the recent growth in graphic novel publishing and said that he hoped the AMU agreement would introduce the company and its services to more publishers.
“Image misuse is damaging and devalues creativity,” he said. “We are excited to be in a position to now assist AMU in its efforts to protect its impressive array of visual assets.”