New Solutions From ARTtrust: Preventing Fraudulent and Unauthorized Use of Fine Art Photography and Artwork

Modern scanning, editing, and printing technology has made it easier than ever to copy an image or piece of art and reproduce it – speaking from personal experience, it can be quite difficult to know which is the original, and which is the copy!

And, of course, we’ve all heard reports and stories about unauthorized use, copying, and outright fraud involving a photographer’s or artist’s work.

The immediate impact is straightforward: money-out-of-your-pocket theft.

But what about the loss of credibility for the artist/photographer – and the reduction in value of a limited edition? Uncertainty about the provenance or number of pieces in the market quickly erodes the value of work already sold – and of course, work that is still on the market.

A company called ARTtrust has created a new, unique solution for these problems – one that helps users to identify and verify authorized work, discourages theft, prevents unauthorized copying, stops “limited” edition over-runs, and more.  ARTtrust makes it possible to provide a unique identity to each print in an edition or to each unique work, whether lithography, serigraphy, design, sculpture, etc.

ARTtrust is an identification and verification system that can be used by individuals, galleries, curators, collectors, museums, and others – the ARTtrust system is easy to understand and implement, and is as nearly perfect a security solution for art and phtography as exists today. ARTtrust provides for control by the artist, owner, authorized organization, or delegated curator or printmaker. Founder and CEO Philippe Serenon likes to say that “ARTtrust is simple, precise, secure, accessible, and authentic”. ARTtrust’s international partners include HP, Innova, Canson, Hahnemuhle, and others.

The ARTtrust system includes:

– A set of three unique identification tags, provided in a set, that cannot be duplicated. One tag is affixed to the artwork or print, another to the Certificate of Authenticity, and the third to the owner’s or printmaker’s file copy or BAT. (more on this later). The tags cannot be removed intact – any tampering destroys the tag. Each set of tags in unique to the individual piece of art.
ARTtrust Bubble Tags

– Each item that is tagged is registered via the ARTtrust online system. A digital image is uploaded, and the unique identification tags are linked to this image. The record can be accessed online by authorized users or a potential customer, providing quick and accurate validation of the item.

– The owner, authorized user, or delegate of the artist can print a pre-formatted Certificate of Authenticity (COA) to accompany the work. The tag on the art work or photograph can be matched to the tag on the COA via the ARTtrust database. Another certificate can be printed for use as a file or reference copy – this carries the third tag.

The technology at the core of the ARTtrust system is the Bubble Tag. This is a 3-D polymer tag which has a one-of-a-kind pattern of bubbles embedded in it. Each Bubble Tag is as unique as a fingerprint, virtually impossible to duplicate. (ARTtrust freely admits that they can’t do it – and they believe no one else can, either.)

The Bubble Tag Compared to Online Record

ARTtrust also provides an on-line gallery for its customers – whether they are individuals or organizations. The gallery includes a digital image, the serial number of the ARTtrust tag assigned to the work, and an image that can be compared to the ARTtrust tag.

An ARTtrust Image Gallery

If you click on one of the images, you’ll see this:

Image with identifying Bubble Tag

Anyone who is interested in buying or exhibiting a print can visit the ARTtrust website, find the online record*, view the bubble tag for verification (compare the tag image on screen to the tag on the artwork – and match the ID numbers), and review additional details about the print, such as availability and pricing.  (*One can enter the serial number on a tag, and easily retrieve the record of the work connected with that tag.)

Interestingly, there is also an iPhone application which can read an ARTtrust tag and provide verification on the spot! You can download the iPhone app on the iTunes App Store – just search for i-ARTtrust.

Here’s a link to the ARTtrust web site – the front page is shown below.

ARTtrust Web Site

Now photographers and artists, individuals and organizations have an independent, secure resource that helps them control and market their work, preserve value, prevent fraud and theft – and it is accessible online almost anywhere in the world.

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Disclosure: I have in the past acted as a consultant and beta tester to ARTtrust and some of its business partners. I received no compensation for writing this blog post.

Managing and Archiving Your Photos

Managing and Archiving Your Photos: Part One: Organization 
by guest author Robert Ash

About the author: “Known data warehousing expert Robert Ash heads a global product management team at a leading  software company. He has 15 years’ experience working with the world’s largest data warehousing environments. His customers have won the past two awards for running the world’s largest mainstream commercial databases, plus other industry awards for data warehouse architecture and administration.”

Also an accomplished photographer,  his work has also earned high critical acclaim from top industry experts. His work hangs in company lobbies and in private collections. His online portfolio can be viewed at www.pbase.com/robertash 

Introduction

 This is first in a series of articles that will review options in managing and archiving your photos. Closely related to the overall topic of Digital Asset Management, “Managing and Archiving Your Photos” will show you options available, how to choose what is best for you, how to build a management structure with reasonable effort, and ensure that your system can be used pretty much regardless of which software you choose.

Overview  

We have all felt, from time to time, that managing our digital photos can be difficult, time-consuming and confusing. Organizing photos on disk is the first and most important step in digital asset management. I designed the method shown here to:

  • Make photos easy to find, even years later
  • Require minimum effort to maintain
  • Provide flexibility to easily use any program you choose, or to use multiple programs (Bridge, Lightroom, etc.)
  • Keep time spent embedding and updating keywording to a minimum
  • Reduce computer time needed to search for an item or items

Summary

Organize images on disk the way you’ll most likely, or most frequently, want to retrieve them. Make your program reflect your on-disk structure then add the minimum additional structure needed

Details

At a fundamental level, there are two ways to organize images – time-based and subject-based.

Most writers prefer time-based organization, typically by year – create a folder for each year then sub-folders beneath it. That works if your workflow is time-based and you typically don’t need to retrieve images after you’re finished with them.

Organizing by year frequently requires duplicating your subject structure for each time period (e.g. 2008 Gorillas, 2009 Gorillas, etc.), which can be a big time waster.

 Here is my approach for working by subject:

  • On your main volume or drive, create one folder Photos to hold all images. That allows full backup with drag and drop of one folder. (more on backup and storage in articles to be published in the near future).
  • Under Photos create a small set of major category folders. Suggestions include Locations, Nature, People, Events, Other Subjects, Personal Projects, 0-Personal&Family. (I use 0-Personal&Family instead of just Personal&Family so that category will sort to the top of the list. )

 Here is how my largest sized category, Locations, is organized:

You might have a main folder United States, a sub-folder of California, then perhaps Los Angeles as a subfolder of California if you do much photography there and want more fine-grained division for that specific folder.

Folder Tree

 You can also add subfolders at any time and any level you want. Just add one new folder and move relevant subfolders into it. Note that year is the bottom category, not the top one, because for me it’s the least important for look-ups and it’s placed where it makes sense for me.

 My other folders are organized like this:

  • add any categories or subcategories you want or need
  • Animals>Bears>Canada>BritishColumbia
  • Canada>Wildlife>Bears>Grizzly>Angry Grizzlies

Strengths/Limitations

 This method drastically reduces the number of keywords needed for image look-ups because the major keywords are already the folder names. All Alaska or Lion or Sunset or Still Life or Weddings images are in a folder that is labeled with the appropriate name.

 Programs like Lightroom allow you to go to your Alaska folder or Juneau folder and see all your Alaska (Fairbanks, Juneau, Sitka),or Juneau (2003, 2006, etc.) or Lion (Tanzania,  San Diego Zoo, etc.) images at once.

 Even better, you can use any program you wish to access the images easily without having to duplicate your major keywords in all the programs, as they’re included in the folder names. (I like this idea a lot – David)

 So if your main program’s catalog gets corrupted or accidentally deleted you can still find images easily.

 Finally, you only need to create each major category once (e.g. Alaska) instead of looking for Alaska in 2007, Alaska in 2009, etc. plus having to remember you didn’t go there in 2008.

 This method will not solve issues like finding all the images including Trees in Munich in Parks in 2007. No on-disk organization method can do that. That level of detail requires keywording, and the most specific the lookups the more keywords required. That requirement either marries you to one program or requires duplicating keywords.

 However, this method can still be of great help if you need to use a different program and can’t duplicate all the keywords. In that case it’s like requiring looking only through the M’s or S’s or Aa-Ae in a telephone book instead of searching the whole book for that year.

If you need to categorize by year as well then programs like Adobe Lightroom allows automation of that through “Smart Collections”, which we can explore more in the next article, Capture and Import.

Robert Ash

New Guest Author, Robert Ash, Digital Image Archiving and Management

In the next week or so, Robert Ash will contribute the first in a series of articles on archiving and managing your digital image files. He’s an expert in the field – just take a look at his bio summary:

“Known data warehousing expert Robert Ash heads a global product management team at a leading software company. He has 15 years’ experience working with the world’s largest data warehousing environments. His customers have won the past two awards for running the world’s largest mainstream commercial databases, plus other industry awards for data warehouse architecture and administration.

 Also an accomplished photographer,  his work has also earned high critical acclaim from  top industry experts. His work hangs in company lobbies and in private collections. His online portfolio can be viewed at www.pbase.com/robertash 

I’m looking forward to it!

 

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