But Brandon Shalton of FightThe Patent.com thinks that technology is the answer, and after listening to numerous legal seminars at webmaster events over the years, has come up with 2257Lookup.com, a project nine months in the making that he hopes will keep many webmasters in compliance with the 2257 notice of Section 18 and away from copyright infringement liability and other legal snares.
"I have technology that can help this problem because I can foresee it," said Shalton.
Shalton has created 2257Lookup, a database that has indexed and processed a large variety of images from content providers like Matrix Content, Titan Media, Focus Adult, Paul Markam, Falcon Foto, Medium Pimpin, Max Pixels, Zmaster, and a growing list of others.
An image in question can be run through the 2257Lookup database and matched up with the original image to identify its origin.
According to Shalton, not being compliant with the basic requirements of 2257 record keeping, which has more to do than just proving the age of models, can land a webmaster in jail for years.
"So many webmasters are mad when people steal their images, so 2257Lookup is like giving them the tools to self-check themselves and get legal, otherwise you will be infringing on copyright," Shalton told XBiz. "The federal government is going to see an image that is either underage or obscene, and as a secondary record keeper, your job is to point to the primary record keeper."
Most webmasters, says Shalton, will just refer to the 2257 page on their websites, which in many cases just list all the content providers in the industry but doesn't give specifics on which images belong to whom.
"Most webmasters purchase from more than one content provider, so many content provider addresses could be listed," Shalton said. "But having the content provider's address is not enough to satisfy the 2257 statute."
Calling 2257Lookup the "WhoIs" of images, Shalton's new software tool can work for webmasters on three levels when it comes to tracing content back to the original owner or distributor of an image, particularly when the federal government comes knocking and wants answers.
According to Shalton, webmasters can use 2257Lookup to become more compliant as a secondary record keeper by knowing where to locate the primary record keeper, and by doing that, they can avoid getting snared up in potential obscenity, child porn, or infringement litigation. Additionally, webmasters can use the software tool as a way to trace the origin of an image that they would like to purchase for their site.
"As with all new technology, it has its start in the adult industry," said Shalton, who has been an entrepreneur for the past six years as well as an outspoken advocate of webmaster legal rights, especially when it comes to issues of patent infringement.
At no charge to content providers, 2257Lookup participants are in the process of submitting their content on hard drives and DVDs to be added to the 2257Lookup database. From there, Shalton can either work with individual webmasters wanting to clean up their records, or he can approach Adult Verification Services, paysites, and credit card processors and identify all of the content in their databases and who the original record keepers are.
Webmasters are charged a small transaction fee on a per image basis to locate the origin of content, whereas a different set of charges apply for AVS' and paysites looking for matches on the contents of their websites.
Eventually, Shalton sees 2257Lookup as expanding its service beyond the adult industry into the mainstream, where companies like Yahoo, Google, and eBay can use it to search for unlicensed use of images on their websites as well as a lookup service for stock photography libraries such as Corbis or Getty.
2257Lookup is currently only able to process images, but according to Shalton will eventually include video.