photo credit: Joi
Ito, who is also the CEO of Neoteny, an Internet investment firm, and on the advisory board for Digital Garage as well as many other boards, is working with Picscout on their new Image IRC and Imagexchange tools, previously covered here.
The Image IRC is a database of fingerprinted images with their metadata (including licensing information) that is accessible via an API. ImageExchange is the end-user component for identifying images within that database and licensing them, currently used in the form of a Firefox extension (other updates, including an Internet Explorer extension, are reportedly in the works).
Ito brings with him a significant amount of clout to the project and a great deal of expertise. Though his role is vague at this time, there is little doubt that it is a major coup for Piscout as it tries to position itself as the go-to source for image detection and licensing assistance.
Ito’s Possible Role
As I said in my original article, two of the greatest problems I saw with the Image IRC/ImageExchange combination was the lack oif broad Creative Commons (and other licensing) support as well as the hurdle of reaching out to every day users. Ito has a great deal of experience with both of these areas and may be able to provide advice and support it both better integrating CC licensing with Picscout’s tools and educating the broader public about their purpose.
Ito’s involvement could be a great asset to the service as it works to both gain traction among visual artists and users. However, his impact may be felt further down the road as Picscout starts to integrate more and more CC-licensed images into the Image IRC and display CC-licensed images alongside stock ones.
It is worth noting that this does not indicate any formal partnership between Creative Commons and Picscout, as mentioned above, Ito works with many different organizations, nor will Ito be stepping down from his Creative Commons position, but there is little doubt that his knowledge and expertise can be of a lot of use in these areas.
In addition to bringing Ito onto their team, Picscout has been expanding the reach of their ImageExchange service, adding Dreamstime stock image library (over 7 million images) as well as Masterfile, Life, Alfo, Mauritius, Blend Images and Glow Images, creating a mix of microstock, royalty-free and rights-managed images.
ImageExchange has also integrated CC-licensed images through Flickr, though only non-commercial images at this time.
This is clearly a sign of momentum for Picscout and may be a sign of the role the Image IRC/ImageExchange solution will play.
Though the news is good for Picscout, obviously it is still very early in the beta process and far too early to tell how successful its new products will be. Though these are clearly big steps in the right direction, it’s sill just speculation as to what will come of it all.
In the meantime though, I’m putting ImageExchange through some paces on my Windows computer and should have a report back to you later this week about its effectiveness and usability.
Until then though, this is clearly a company that visual artists of all stripes need to keep an eye on moving forward, especially considering both the existing orphan works problem and looking down the road to a potential bill on the subject.