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It’s not easy to get people to pay for things like photos that are easily stolen on the internet. But ImageSpan just might have some success with a new system that allows it to collect royalties on behalf of artists and photographers.

The Sausalito, Calif.-based company is announcing today that it has signed deals to offer its services at a discount to photography groups with more than 35,000 professionals.

The company has teamed with the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), PMA: the Worldwide Community of Imaging Associations, and the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP). ImageSpan will provide two versions of its LicenseStream Creator service to photographers, who can mark their photos for automatic tracking on the internet. ImageSpan uses internet standards such as XML to track the use of photos anywhere in seconds, rather than months.

The point is to give artists and photographers a way to put their work online without fear of being ripped off. In exchange for discounts, the photo associations will regularly promote ImageSpan’s technology to their members. That should generate increased use of the artists’ work. And as the photographers see more usage, ImageSpan will see its own revenue share grow.

Other partners using ImageSpan include Omnicom, Visible World and a number of online ad agencies. ImageSpan was founded in 2003 and has raised $16 million from investors including Bertelsmann, Greycroft Partners, Village Ventures, the New York City Investment Fund, City Light Capital Management and Ackerley Partners.

ImageSpan competes with other photo-licensing services such as Photrade and GumGum.

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