Monday, September 1, 2008
The PLUS Coalition: Standardized Licensing Codes
Protect your business and promote your work by employing the simple standardized licensing codes proposed by this internationally recognized organization
|The PLUS Artist & Licensor Registry screen. |
PLUS is governed by a balanced, “industry-neutral” board of directors, with one seat for each industry sector. Central to the organization are standards that enable photographers, stock agencies, software companies, trade organizations and their clients to establish better working relationships, waste less time and gain greater value from streamlined interaction, minimizing miscommunications in the management of image rights.
Cofounder Jeff Sedlik, who’s the president and CEO of PLUS, current Professor of Photography at the Art Center College of Design and past president of the Advertising Photographers of America (APA), describes PLUS as “a very bright light on the horizon at a time when there aren’t a lot of bright lights on the horizon for independent photographers.”
What makes PLUS that “bright light”? As noted on the usePLUS.org website, its mission is “to simplify and facilitate the communication and management of image rights,” both domestically and internationally. PLUS does this via a system of standards comprised of five core initiatives developed cooperatively by photographers, stock agencies and their clients. All PLUS standards are free to use, whether you’re a PLUS member or not.
The core of the PLUS system of standards is comprised of the Picture Licensing Glossary, Media Matrix, License Data Formats, PLUS Packs and the PLUS ID System. These standards establish universal licensing terminology, media types and media options, license descriptions, license packages, and the identification of media, rights holders, licenses and images.
There’s no shortage of photography-related standards bodies, including two of the most well known, the International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) and Creative Commons (CC). How does PLUS fit in? Sedlik describes these organizations as noncompetitive and, in fact, they’re actively collaborating.
IPTC, a consortium of news organizations and vendors founded in 1965, oversees metadata standards for the news industry. Originally, these metadata standards aligned to the transmission of text only. Later, these standards expanded, keeping pace with changing technology, adding attributes to support photographs. Adopted by a variety of trade organizations and software companies, the IPTC header in image files archives critical data, including captions, keywords, copyright status and basic rights information. IPTC is a charter PLUS member and has worked closely with PLUS on development of the PLUS standards to address the issue of rights metadata standardization.
|The License Data Format shows what particular fields can be embedded within an image file. |
CC, a five-year-old nonprofit, creates and makes available standardized legal licenses for a variety of creative content, including photography. CC licenses allow users to grant rights to unknown parties for broad and potentially unforeseen use. CC licenses run the gamut from Attribution Only, where use is open even for commercial work as long as the photographer is attributed, to Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives, where all use is restricted other than redistribution (i.e., download and share).
In contrast, PLUS license packs allow users to manage image rights to known parties for specific use. PLUS and CC are cooperating to ensure that the PLUS standards will allow CC users to embed CC license information in image files. Both organizations are committed to educating users about each other’s standardized license systems. (Go to www.digitalphotopro.com to read the “Creative Commons” article from the May/June 2008 issue.)
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