Vigilant marketing, legal sales, copyright business but not their own photo watermarking, is the root cause of the "public anger" in Visual China, but the stock price recovery shows a real problem, at least at present, Visual China is still the "boss" of the photo copyright website, capital is still optimistic about the future market prospects of copyright.
However, no one will be an eternal winner. On April 14, People's Network launched an initiative. People's Picture Network is willing to explore the linkage mechanism with the mainstream media in image editing, use and copyright trading. Can visual China always dominate in the attack of its powerful enemies, relying solely on the "family background" accumulated before?
More importantly, in the "black hole" incident, visual China exposed not only the neglect of copyright and abuse of copyright as a photo copyright website, but also the shortcomings of its professional ability in copyright agency. This means that buyers can not completely evade infringement even if they pay for maps from visual China, which is the biggest "black hole" made in visual China. "
On the evening of April 18, Visual China issued an apology statement: it will strictly abide by the relevant laws and regulations of the state, conduct a comprehensive screening of platform content and product services to ensure clear ownership labels and legitimate compliance of authorization mechanism.
Why can't Eagle Eye see that black hole photos are not copyrighted?
Visual China's biggest problem in this "black hole incident" is to include unauthorized pictures in its own gallery and charge users for them. As a copyright-based photo website, this is the most criticized point.
Last year, Mr. Ruan, a photographer, entered the foreign funny wildlife competition Finalist. However, not long ago, he found that his photo was used by China Daily, and the source of the picture wrote "Visual China". "I have never signed Visual China and the website has never communicated with me," Mr. Ruan told the IT Times that he had signed a contract with the British organizer of the competition when he participated in the competition. He agreed that without Mr. Ruan's written authorization, the competitors could not transfer the copyright and ownership of the entries. However, when he inquired on Visual China, he found that his photo was boldly displayed. "This is pure hooliganism," he said, adding a visual Chinese watermarking and selling it publicly.
Mr. Ruan's experience is the same as that of the "black hole" photo. Similarly, they are not authorized, and they are also sold in the logo of Visual China. Visual China, which operates in the name of copyright protection, why neglect other people's copyright so much?
Since Visual China's Eagle Eye system can search for infringing pictures on the Internet and file lawsuits, why not use this system to check whether the pictures in its gallery are copyrighted?
Visual China's financial report shows that in 2017, Visual China has set up a system to safeguard its copyright interests. This system is an image copyright network tracking system developed by Visual China based on big image data and artificial intelligence technology (also known as Eagle Eye). It can automatically generate reports by means of automatic whole-web crawler, automatic image comparison and authorization comparison. Automatically process more than 2 million/day data, track and provide one-stop copyright protection services such as authorization management analysis, online tort evidence preservation, etc.
However, it is doubtful that the "Eagle Eye" magic system has not been used for its own photo library auditing and cleaning, but has become a "magic weapon" for Visual China to enhance online and offline customer operations. According to Visual China Annual Report 2017, during the reporting period, the number of potential customers identified by Visual China through Eagle Eye increased by more than 84% compared with the same period last year, and the number of new annual agreement customers increased by more than 54% compared with the same period last year.
Visual China is questioned as "fish farming in water" is not without foundation. Many media people have said after being sued by Visual China that when they download pictures on the Internet, they do not see any watermarks on the pictures. Those websites that provide infringing pictures exist for a long time. If Visual China really wants to crack down on piracy, why are the litigants aimed at users rather than these users? What about pirated photo websites? "Eagle Eye" only looks at others, not at himself, in Huo Torch's view, because "these unprofessional actions do not affect their profits, and may even increase their profits."
The "pot" is dumped to the subscribers. Why not audit the platform?
On April 12, Chu Guanghuang, the founder of PRphoto, made it clear in his article "Simple Photographers Friends: Visual China is not as innocent as you think" on Wechat Public Number PRphoto that PRphoto was commissioned by FAW Volkswagen to shoot a new car conference in 2018, and the pictures taken on the spot were used by the Commissioner to publish press releases. But soon afterwards, an automobile media accidentally received a letter from a lawyer from Visual China. The official website of the media is clearly stated in the lawyer's letter.micro-blogUsing 157 copyrighted pictures with copyright-related rights in visual China, the media will bear the corresponding responsibility for unauthorized use of copyrighted pictures according to law. However, PRphoto has strict internal regulations, forbidding photographers to transfer pictures to the photo gallery. After investigation, it was found that Liang Xiaopeng, a Shandong photographer, uploaded pictures from FAW Volkswagen's public relations manuscript to Visual China, which led to this farce.
Visual China's handling of PRphoto queries resulted in offline pictures and the release of photographers. In the case of online users using the national flag and emblem for authorized sales, it also simply stated that "after checking the picture, it was provided by the contracted contributors of Visual China, and Visual China, as a platform, has the responsibility of lax auditing." In a word, I dumped the pot which uploaded the question picture to the subscriber. But is the problem really so simple?
A judgment of the Supreme People's Court in 2014 is a "Shangfang sword" for the large-scale protection of rights in China. According to this judgment, declarations of rights and watermarks can be used as proof of copyright in the absence of contrary evidence. This means that visual China has the right to claim damages from infringers as long as the image is watermarked. Great interests, let visual China open the "green light" to subscribers.
Data show that Visual China can provide more than 200 million pictures, 10 million video materials and 350,000 music or sound effects of various styles online, but for copyright requirements of these pictures, Visual China only restricts them through a single agreement. IT Times reporter saw in a picture of "Visual China Photography Community Network Service Use Agreement" circulated online that Article 7.7 clearly shows that "because the works of users of Visual China Photography Community are uploaded by users themselves, the Visual China Photography Community has no ability or responsibility to examine the existence of infringement of works, infringement of works uploaded by users and other laws. The responsibility is assumed by the uploader himself. Users agree that if legal disputes such as infringement occur due to downloading and using works uploaded by other users, the Visual China Photography Community shall not bear any responsibility and the users shall not file any claim with the Visual China Photography Community.
Visual China Photographer Chen Fan (a pseudonym) told reporters that Visual China not only requires the contributor to be the creator and sole copyright owner or authorized representative of the copyright material submitted, but also requires that the material submitted should not infringe on any third party's copyright, trademark right, patent right, trade secret or other intellectual property rights, reputation right, privacy right, portrait right and other third parties. Other legitimate rights, no illegal content and copyright material requirements can not be used for job works, but these requirements are only reflected in the content of the contract, as to whether visual China will be audited, or require photographers to provide proof materials, "at least I have not encountered it."
In foreign countries, the regulations are very strict. Mr. Ruan said that when participating in foreign competitions for photographic works, if portraits of people are involved in the photographic works, the organizers will ask the participants to attach a written consent certificate of the photographed person.
On the one hand, the uploaded pictures are not audited, on the other hand, they use "Eagle Eye" to safeguard their rights, promote sales, and visualize the "copyright business" in China. In recent years, visual China has involved tens of thousands of civil cases. As a plaintiff, visual China has launched intensive legal proceedings all over the country on the grounds of "infringement of the right to disseminate works'information on the Internet".
Why can't paying Visual China avoid the risk of infringement?
In Huo's view, the biggest problem of visual China is that it is not professional and has no ability to perform the duties of copyright agents.
The so-called copyright agent is that the copyright owner entrusts all or part of his copyright to the agent, and the agent exercises power in the name of the principal, that is, the obligee. On the one hand, they sign copyright contracts with authors to help them find opportunities for publishing and publishing works so as to obtain certain benefits. On the other hand, they also avoid uncertain risks for the purchasers of works and help the purchasers get the authorization of the use of works.
In foreign countries, a professional copyright agency company needs to make clear copyright confirmation for pictures. Huo pointed out that if a person's portrait appeared in the photo, the library would even ask the author to erase these elements without confirming that the photo had its portrait right and the right to use the works of art. In the meantime, an important detail is that when a photographer uploads a picture to the library company, the library company, as a copyright agent, should see the potential risks in the content of the picture at the stage of reviewing the photo.
But judging from the current operation mode of visual China, whether intentionally or unintentionally, this professional operation has not been reflected. In fact, even a buyer of visual Chinese pictures can't avoid risks by purchasing pictures from the platform.
Take Mr. Ruan's infringed pictures as an example. Visual China has not been authorized by the real copyright owner. Does China Daily actually cause infringement?
You Yunting, senior partner of Shanghai Dabang Law Firm and intellectual property lawyer, believes that China Daily and Visual China have infringed Mr. Ruan's copyright. If Mr. Ruan protects his rights to China Daily through legal channels, China Daily can add the responsibility of the defendant after the court's consent, that is, to require Visual China to take responsibility together. Visual China, without Mr. Ruan's permission, puts its pictures on the website and sells them, which is a bad infringement. It needs to compensate Mr. Ruan and China Daily for their direct or indirect losses. Deep reading
How to be a professional copyright agent?
At present, in the field of image copyright management, there are two types of license authentication: RF (tax-free license) and RM (managed copyright). The difference between the two is that the latter is subject to a lot of restrictions, including time constraints, restrictions on the use of occasions and many other conditions that need to be considered, while the RF is less constrained, and the quality of picture material is slightly lower. Huo believes that when visual China sells pictures, it confuses RF with RM, and is confused with the problems of unclear photo portrait rights and trademark rights, as well as the problems of public and non-commercial authorized works. "Faced with the huge amount of picture material, visual China does not yet have the comprehensive ability of a qualified copyright agent."
A copyright broker told reporters that at present there are copyright brokerage companies in China, but most of them are publishing companies or film and television companies acting as copyright brokers. "It's not a day's work to have a well-known copyright broker, but in an atmosphere of making fast money, few brokerage companies are still carrying out financing, training and investment under the banner of copyright brokerage, with direct consequences." Yes, many authors don't trust copyright brokers to protect their copyright, and many buyers also question that copyright brokers can drive up prices and can't guarantee clear rights.
Moreover, if we want to be a professional copyright agent, visual China needs to invest a lot of manpower and material resources. A person from the video industry told reporters that when making a promotional short film, the producer asked her to contact the copyright owner of the music in the film and obtain authorization to use it. In order to do this, she spent a lot of time looking for and confirming.
However, in the previous Supreme Court judgment in 2014, it also pointed out that "if the requirements for preliminary evidence are too high, such as the requirement for each picture to obtain a photographer's authorization certificate, or for each picture to do copyright registration, it will undoubtedly be a huge burden for the obligee."
For reference, in the field of music authorization, at present, China adopts the way of collective management of copyright, and the state-licensed collective management organization of copyright creates a "package authorization main channel cooperation" to solve the problem of mass music authorization by reaching a "package authorization main channel cooperation" between mass users and collective management organizations.
But the recognition of audio copyright is simpler than that of pictures. For Visual China, becoming a truly respected photo copyright company is not as simple as maintaining a legal team.