Tag Archives: ispy video

Copyright Hunters

(Note: This post should not be considered legal advice. We offer this for information and education purposes only. If you have any questions about specific usage, please contact the supplier or a copyright lawyer.)

The Rise of the Copyright Hunters

Copyright hunters – This is our term for the many companies popping up in recent years focused on going after people who are using created works without authorization. Many of these companies refer to what they do as copyright protection. I will explain this in more detail below but in general, these companies work on behalf of creators to identify unauthorized use or infringement. Creative pros need to be aware that if they find and grab images online, they are at risk. Even searching on a suppliers site (or on iSPY) you need to be certain you acquire the rights needed to use the image in the way you want. More below.

What is Copyright?

Copyright speaks to the protection offered by governments around the world to “authors of original works.” We will focus on images for this post but any tangible and original work is likely protected – music, images, art, drawings, books. When the work is created, the author immediately owns or is granted the copyright. This gives that artist the right to determine if and how others can use their work. In general, Copyright begins when the work is created and ends throughout the life of the author plus 70 years. There are other conditions where this may be different.

Copyright Protection

This is a term that is often used now to refer to the steps taken by creators to protect their copyright ownership. This can include things like watermarking images, or using a copyright symbol. There are also Creative Commons licenses which now allow the creator or their representative to offer use without compensation, possible with conditions like attribution.

Copyright Hunting

One kind of protection is when a creator or their representative provides copyrighted works to a company who can then use it to search the web for unauthorized use. This is what we call copyright hunting. These companies have technology that crawls the web and identifies every use, even when only with a fraction of the image showing. A report will likely be provided to the creator or their representative so they can determine if the use is authorized or not.

Copyright hunting is sometimes controversial. As you can imagine, with billions of images online, it can be expensive and time-consuming to verify each and every image use many times over. In recent years, some copyright hunters have gone after use not knowing if it was authorized or not, asking for the user to verify or prove that they have a proper license. This has become particularly important today since many images are distributed through many different channels. If they do not have a license, this is treated as an unauthorized use.

So what happens if I can’t prove I have a license?

It depends. Some copyright hunters will give you a chance to purchase the license, at a rate similar to what you would have paid if you had licensed the image originally. Some copyright hunters may charge a premium since the image was used without authorization. While we cannot advise if someone should pay, we can share that in our experience, it is usually cheaper to pay the license fee than fight if you don’t have a license.

So how does iSPY help?

First, we connect you with only the most reputable image suppliers. These companies are clear on what they offer. They understand what images can be used for specific purposes. You can search for images that meet certain criteria – like model releases when needed for commercial use. We include suppliers that offer high-end content, royalty free content, and even Creative Commons suppliers (no fee licensing).

Second, we have created a section for our pro and enterprise users for documents and licenses. You can literally upload a license, connect it to a project, include the image number and supplier information, and file it away for when you get that “nasty gram” asking you to prove you have a license. We think that is pretty awesome!

Feel free to reach out using the small icon on the bottom right of your screen, if you have any questions or suggestions. We are happy to help!

Happy searching!

Leslie Hughes is the CEO and Founder of iSPY Technologies, Inc. and iSPY Visuals, an intelligent search tool and workspace for visual content users. Hughes has over 20 years experience in digital media licensing, content production, and distribution, including having been President of Bill Gates’ Corbis Images, and President of the Markets and Products Group for Corbis Corp. She became an entrepreneur 10 years ago. Hughes has consulted or been part of 6 start-ups and 12 acquisitions.  She has an MBA from the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University, is the proud mother of two and lives and works in New York.

Connect with Leslie: Twitter | LinkedIn | Angel List

Coming out

As I write this, Leslie, Karen and I have just jumped off our regular Tuesday planning call. It’s almost 10pm my time, but over in NYC the ladies are giving over their afternoons to focus on our next steps – a big, hefty and somewhat daunting list is drawn up, broken down, rebuilt and scrutinised. Unlike most of our Tuesday sessions where we just focus on the progress of development and check-in with our weekly growth (hi new users, we see you!), our conversations this fortnight are all about looking further out onto the horizon.

We’re coming out! (of BETA)

After just over a year of development, our little app is heading into it’s next phase that will mark the end of our BETA. We’ll still, of course, be testing the app and getting feedback from our users, but from a system perspective the full foundations are now almost complete for the big move to becoming a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform. What you won’t yet be able to see, but will be released over the coming weeks, are all of the new functionality changes we’ve been making to the site to help make it more efficient, to make sure searches are quicker and that finding the right images is even easier than before. In line with all these new changes, we’ll be launching three new account plans: Discover, Creative Pro and Enterprise.

There’s a lot more to say about the plans and the upcoming features, but I’m not going to spoil the surprise now. What I will say though is that we’re finally ready to launch the version designed for teams, for collaboration and for making smarter choices about how you manage your licensed creative content. To me, that piece is hugely exciting because we’re no longer just a tool to find great creative content, but we’re supporting teams and their ability to work with integrity and security – finding licensable content, retaining those licenses and managing your team, client interaction and workflow.

Anyway, that’s enough for right now. I’m going to do another post in a few weeks on where we’re heading and hopefully we’ll be looking at detailing the new features around that time too.

In the meantime, happy searching!

Natalie Burns VP Strategy iSPY Visuals LLC

Natalie Burns is the VP Strategy at iSPY Visuals, Inc., a search one and done aggregation tool for visual content. In the daytime, you’ll find Natalie working as a Strategist at the branding agency, Pixeldot, hosting and moderating events that celebrate women in technology and advocating women’s rights and voter engagement through projects like What Women Want 2.0. Prior to Pixeldot, Natalie was co-Director of an international technology company and began her career at the intersection between technology and photography.

Connect with Natalie: Twitter | LinkedIn | Angel List

Female Founders Perform

Isn’t it interesting that an industry that requires its founders to be data-driven, isn’t itself.

Venture Capital firms are ignoring evidence that a company is often more successful when it has at least one female founder or a female CEO. The evidence is significant.

This is post #2 regarding raising capital as a Female Founder (you can read my first instalment here). We are targeting raising a million dollars, which will allow us to build out the company infrastructure, focus on customer acquisition, and get to our next key building stage. I noted in the previous post that female founders received about 2% of VC funding, despite owning 38% of businesses (HBR). Fortune says this also held true in 2017 with female founded companies receiving 2.2%. Unbelievably, just 8% of companies funded by VCs have female partners (HBR), while 17% of startups have a female founder (Techcrunch). Yet, in our small startup we have three female founders. Forbes, however, says there was a “silver lining” in 2017: With the exception of 2014, companies run by women received their largest share of VC dollars — 2.2% of the dollars and just under 5% of the deals done. Deep sigh. Not much of a silver lining.

The numbers are disappointing but not surprising. The data-driven VC world seems to ignore statistics that show that investing in female founded companies leads to positive results. This week, I had a conversation with a man who is well-connected in the NY VC world who offered this insight, “Men won’t invest in what they don’t understand.” Oftentimes, companies with female founders are solving women’s problems. Think bra’s, styling, and companies like Thinx, the bold and unabashed period underwear, or Peanut for mama’s looking to meet their peers, or Thirdlove which sells underwear. Apparently, men turn off quickly if the solution being offered is female gender specific. This explanation makes sense to me, however, there is a deeper issue since the largest segment of female founded companies that received funding are in tech and are gender neutral. On the one hand, this validates the point that men are more likely to invest in something that is gender neutral or that they can understand. But on the other hand, this implies that there are many companies still not being funded if they are led by at least one female founder even in gender neutral businesses.


  • Companies with at least one female founder “out-performed their male counterparts by 63%” creating shareholder value (First Round)
  • As the chart below shows, “at four out of five high-growth revenue measures, female-founded companies showed stronger overall performance. (Tinypulse)
  • The fastest growing companies at 200%+ growth, are 75% more likely to have a female founder.” (Tinypulse)
  • “For profitable firms, a move from no female leaders to 30% representation is associated with a 15% increase in the net revenue margin.”(MCSI)

There is no explanation for why startups with female founders perform better but they often do. “Firms with a woman running the show perform far better than the market.”(Fortune). Perhaps this is due to diversity of thought. Perhaps this is due to the fact that women tend to be more realistic with their projections. Perhaps this is due to the fact that women balance data with intuitiveness or “gut.” Whatever the reasons, I hope that 2018 is the year that the tides begin to shift in favor of female founders.

iSPY is an image tech company, so aside from our founding team and a penchant for punchy, feminine hues of pink and purple, we’re pretty gender neutral in the service our product delivers. We are also part of a slowly growing wave of businesses that are set on disrupting a large industry. Positioned to take advantage of an emerging segment, we sit right between buyers and sellers to create a network effect. After my calls this week, I am convinced that investors like our business model. I am also convinced that most investors will be looking for reasons not to invest. Our team is evaluating everything from location, to tech platform, to business inflection points. Hopefully, these steps will help us become one of the small percent of funded companies run by women. Fingers crossed!

Leslie Hughes is the CEO and Founder of iSPY Technologies, Inc. and iSPY Visuals, an intelligent search tool and workspace for visual content users. Hughes has over 20 years experience in digital media licensing, content production, and distribution, including having been President of Bill Gates’ Corbis Images, and President of the Markets and Products Group for Corbis Corp. She became an entrepreneur 10 years ago. Hughes has consulted or been part of 6 start-ups and 12 acquisitions.  She has an MBA from the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University, is the proud mother of two and lives and works in New York.

Connect with Leslie: Twitter | LinkedIn | Angel List

Getting to know Gallery Stock with Jennifer Fox Freeman

Nestled amongst our collections you’ll find Gallery Stock – a provider whose collection brings us to the delicate line between commerce and fine art. A search on “alpha females” will recall portraits like those you might expect to don the cover of Wired alongside an array of fashion-forward faces gazing towards the camera and a selection of seemingly candid emotive shots. That diversity and quality make hitting return on Gallery Stock search a pleasure.

But that’s just my view – I’ll let you all tell us what you think of their collection in the chat! In the meantime, if you haven’t had the pleasure of getting to know Gallery Stock before then please allow the marvellous Jennifer Fox Freeman to help get you acquainted.

With a background as an Art Director at Corbis and now as Creative Director of Gallery Stock, it seems you’ve had a pretty illustrious career at the heart of photography. What was it that originally drew you to the image-making world?

In fifth grade, I did a project on what you want to be when you grew up. I selected Graphic Designer. After 2 years in the Pharmacy School in college, I switched back to my love of design, art and images. After beginning my career in advertising for 8 years, I had the opportunity to join the Commercial Production Team as an Art Director at Corbis that was going to travel the world to create best in class imagery. I never looked back.

I love to see photographers who also pursue their passion. You can really tell when someone’s heart is in their work. Their ability to tell a story, capture a moment, and pay attention the smallest detail allows us to go on that journey with them.

I know exactly what you mean, I think that’s part of what brings me back to gaze at the work of great photographers again and again. What about Gallery Stock, how did the collection come into existence?

Gallery Stock was born from the Photographer Representation Agency, Bernstein & Andriulli. Howard Bernstein saw a need to license his photographer’s archival work. The demand was so great, a new department/company needed to be formed. We have grown organically since then but still remain very boutique, while we focus on quality over quantity.

People can sometimes hear ‘boutique’ and think it means quirky or play too much into one niche – but I don’t get that from your collection at all; it’s more a high-end collection with boutique customer service. What is it about the collection that attracts people?

Every day the feedback we receive is that our collection is beautiful and resonates with the continued need for fresh, relevant, and engaging images. When our clients are seeking narratives to break through the clutter in their marketplace, they search Gallery Stock.

We believe that if we give back to our artists and offer one of the top revenue splits available, we will continue to provide exceptional work from premium photographers.  We are known for our unparalleled, authentic, and relevant photography; we are not a vast pool of stock images, but a highly handpicked collection. Our vision is to creatively partner with top brands as a content creation source which will continue to support and open up new opportunities for our artists.

How do you actually get to that really curated Gallery Stock aesthetic?

We feel we leverage our expertise to give our clients access to top photographers through our captivating image licensing collection. We are currently working with many fine artists and commercial photographers who have never typically done stock in the past. Our point of view is a curated mix of high-end, premium images that sit within the top genres our clients are looking for: portraits, epic landscapes, luxury lifestyle, business, healthcare, etc.

If you were going to give some advice to someone who is just starting out at a picture desk, looking for their first image, what would you say?

I would advise them to do their homework and research the type of photography/photographers that would best suit their product/company/blog/article. Look to see where those artists have their portfolios and dive in, remembering to search as many different variations on a keyword as possible to be able to source the best results from a search.

Just for fun, who is your own favourite visual artist?

Since I was a teenager, it has always been Chuck Close. His conceptual portraits, use of the grid technique and meticulousness and massiveness of his work has continually awed me.

Getting Started

Hi iSPYers

We have created a “Getting Started” document to help you understand what iSPY is and how to get the most from our app.

This guide is for Individual users. If you are interested in Enterprise accounts, contact us at support@ispyvisuals.com and one of our account managers will contact you.

One more thing – iSPY is still in its infancy. We aim to create a tool that meets your needs so contact us with any feedback or features you would like to see added.

Happy searching!

The iSPY team

The iSPY Getting Started Guide

Read Now

Women raising start-up capital circa 2017

Raising money as a woman founder is tough.

According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), women are getting about 2% of the VC funding, despite owning 38% of businesses. According to Fortune (Fortune), in 2016, 5,839 companies with all male founders received venture capital funding compared to only 359 with female founders. The men received 16X more funding than companies founded by women. In 2016, women led companies represented nearly 5% of VC deals, up from 10 years ago when women led companies represented less than 3% of deals. While this was a bit of an improvement, sadly however, the average value for women led companies was down 25%; $4.5 million compared with slightly over $6 million in 2015.

The numbers vary depending on the source, but in no case are they any good for women entrepreneurs.

I am glad I didn’t know these numbers when I became an entrepreneur. They certainly would have given me pause. However, progress is made by the fearless. Being a woman in business means there is often a reason to pause, and we mustn’t. My company is hoping to raise $1 million in the next year, so while the numbers above are daunting, we move forward… fearlessly.

iSPY is a technology driven business that helps Creative Pros search for images (stills and video) across platforms.

The core of what we do is simultaneous search. We save our users a lot of time. In addition, we are connecting our users to legally, licensable content, unlike Google and other more general search aggregation tools. Creative Pros can search their favorite image sources, or find new creative resources. In addition, we offer our users a creative workspace full of collaboration tools to make the journey from concept to campaign far easier. Not only can they collaborate with team members, but through iSPY they can gain direct access to the image providers; making requests for similars or variations simpler. Users are able to manage projects, all from their iSPY dashboard, including uploading documents, project briefs, storyboards, and image licenses. Also, companies are able to manage teams with administration and enterprise rights. In addition, we offer access to resources with one click that the user might not know existed. We offer advanced search to aid in finding the best content that meets the users needs. In the end, we are a tool but also a creative resource.

To date, iSPY has raised $150,000.00 and we are in beta. We expect to begin generating revenue in the coming months, and are positioned where we can start raising growth capital in a Series A round. I know that we need to grow quickly to be able to cement our position in the industry. To do this, I will be seeking $1 million.

So, in light of the statistics above, how do we move forward? By using our network, connecting with clients, and proving that we are meeting the needs of a dynamic marketplace. Proving we have a good product, however, may not be enough. It is difficult to understand why women founders are so underfunded. But, I am not sure it really matters. As women, we must deal with it. The question I am more interested in is how we change it. One way is to get more women involved in investing. I am pleased to say that of 7 early investors in iSPY, 4 are women. I am looking for funding from investors that see the value in what we are doing and aim to support a more diverse entrepreneurial environment. So, while raising money as a woman founder is tough, it is a challenge I am tackling with enthusiasm and confidence.

Stay tuned as I will be documenting this journey; sharing the trials and tribulations of raising money as a woman founder. We may or may not succeed but I will be sharing it all – what we do right, the misses, and in the end, if we accomplish our goal.

Leslie Hughes is the CEO and Founder of iSPY Technologies, Inc. and iSPY Visuals, an intelligent search tool and workspace for visual content users. Hughes has over 20 years experience in digital media licensing, content production, and distribution, including having been President of Bill Gates’ Corbis Images, and President of the Markets and Products Group for Corbis Corp. She became an entrepreneur 10 years ago. Hughes has consulted or been part of 6 start-ups and 12 acquisitions.  She has an MBA from the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University, is the proud mother of two and lives and works in New York.

Connect with Leslie: Twitter | LinkedIn | Angel List