, , ,

Copytrack supports photographers against image theft

This start-up has the technology to track unlicensed uses of images, worldwide. An interview with the founder of Copytrack.

When photos are used without a license and without pay, there is not much the creator can do. To hire a lawyer for every case is not sustainable. Enter Copytrack, a company supporting photographers against image theft – using self-developed technology and an international legal team.

Background: For more than a decade the market development for photos is negative. On the one hand  the demand for visuals has grown strongly, on the other hand income for many photographers is shrinking for more than a decade.

The traditional print-market has lost the dominant role it ones had. Photo sales to newspapers or magazines are declining. The entire news industry has seen advertising income going down for more than a decade. Sales from your photo archive are much lower than in the past. And finally, the best and most popular photos are often used without a proper license.

So far, there was not much photographers could do about image theft. In few big cases – big brand using well-known visual – a law suit might have had success. But in all other, mostly small cases? At the end you are a photographer, not an office worker or lawyer.

Photographers are living in a strange world: Never was the demand for visuals higher. But at the same time the traditional photo market is broken: Different to the past pictures are often not properly paid for, taking “a picture from the internet” is widely considered as unproblematic. 


The founder of Copytrack is a serial entrepreneur

Who are you and what is your background?

Marcus Schmitt, Founder and CEO of CopyTrack (Source: Copytrack)

The founder of Copytrack and CEO is Marcus Schmitt, from Germany. He has a background in IT and business. He worked for a large consulting firm and also founded and scaled a number of start-up companies over the years. He describes himself as always thinking about business ideas – the concept for Copytrack to support creators and owners of images struck him as specifically important.
Marcus Schmitt on LinkedIn 


We sent him a number of questions to learn more about Copytrack.

Please describe what your company offers as an introduction

Copytrack is a platform for photographers, picture agencies, publishers and e-commerce, where they can check where their images are used worldwide. Since about 80% of the images are used illegally, Copytrack takes care of the subsequent licensing or compensation.

Tip – see Copytrack in action:
One photographer and Copytrack client independently produced a YouTube video about his experience with most stolen pictures and how Copytrack worked for him.

How many people work at the company?

Our team currently consists of about 22 employees. Copytrack was founded in 2015. Go-to-market was in 2016.

How is the company funded (bootstrap, VC, business angels, public funding)

The shareholders have financed Copytrack from their own funds. So far we have no institutional investor on board.

Why was the company formed? What is the need in the market?

Every day, 3 billion images are uploaded and shared on the Internet – over 80% of them without a valid license. The creators lose large parts of their income here. Copytrack helps the creators to their income and rights.

Who should onboard to your platform today and what are the benefits?

Basically everyone who owns image rights. So photographers, picture agencies, publishers, e-commerce companies. We offer them a completely risk-free solution for the discovery of abuse & the prosecution of image rights.

What are two to three key features?

  1. Our services are success-based, there no costs if there is no success.
  2. We are one of the few services of this kind who work worldwide
  3. Our image crawler and image matching technology are very powerful

Which features have been complex to develop?

Certainly our crawler, which can currently search up to 5,000 websites per second, and our Image Matching AI, which ensures that the results our clients get are accurate. Another building block is the legal enforcement, once we found images without license of our clients.

What is or are the feature(s) you are most proud of?

  • Being one of the few to have a global service offering
  • To be able to offer a top technology
  • To be risk-free for our customers
  • To have a multinational and motivated team

What have been major milestones of development so far?

Certainly our Crawler and Matching AI and our network for legal enforcement.

Who are your big competitors?

We do have competitors, but none actually covers all of what we do. Most focus on specific geographic areas.

What are next steps forward, extensions, new features, etc.?

We are improving our service continuously. A focus of ours is to implement the learnings from thousands of cases where we detected images without license – the know-how is now implemented so that all clients can benefit while reducing the time they have to invest into their Copytrack cases. On top we plan new areas of business which will go live in the near future.

Presentation from Copytrack in Bloomen Week (May 2020)

Download PDF:
Copytrack Presentation 

The importance of Blockchain for media assets

What is your opinion about using Blockchain tech for media asset management?

Especially in the area of digital media, block chain solutions make total sense. Whether it is registration or proof of license – and history.

What will be needed for more mainstream Blockchain projects?

I think with time this will develop by itself and be market driven. But especially in terms of registration and licenses there are too many “island solutions” – the least they should do is a standardized exchange of information.

What is the strongest aspect of Blockchain (in our opinion). What is the weakest?

The most interesting is that Blockchain records are immutable. The weakest aspect is that most applications are mostly closed systems, because we miss global standards for exchange of data.

Company website: