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Photrade lets photographers control their pictures, get paid for them

The service aims to be a combination of stock photography site and ad revenue generator, even as it gives photographers tools to protect their work.

Photrade is built around the notion of a democratic stock photo site that lets photographers control ownership of their images, even as they earn ad revenue if others use them for commercial purposes. Daniel Terdiman/CNET News

SAN DIEGO--These days, I hear about new photo sharing sites just about every day.

That's especially true when you go to a conference like DemoFall or its winter version, Demo, where over the years, I've seen more photo sharing sites than I could ever care to count.

At the same time, the stock photography business has been turned on its ear by the emergence of Web 2.0 and phenomenons like crowdsourcing.

On Monday here, a startup called Photrade took the stage to show off their new service, which combines both photo sharing and stock photography in a bid to give people a way to earn some money with the digital cameras that are ubiquitous these days.

In effect, the service is about connecting photographers, publishers and advertisers in a single marketplace, Photrade CEO Andew Paradise told me in an interview recently, that lets the photographers get paid when publishers use their pictures.

The idea for the site, Paradise explained, is that there are more and more talented photographers taking pictures and posting them online. The days in which only traditional professional photographers can take the kinds of pictures advertisers would want are over, in other words.

But until now, Photrade argues, talented amateurs haven't had a way to get paid for their work. And at the same time, it has been difficult for photographers to maintain control over the pictures when they're posted online.

So Photrade aims to solve those problems.

On the one hand, Photrade helps protect photographers by embedding custom watermarks in users' pictures with a system that also allows for updating and changing the watermarks any time they want.

In addition, the system allows photographers to track usage of their photos, so that they can determine who is using them. And, if they decide they're not happy with someone specific using a photo, they can block access to that picture. But if that happens, the user gets a note allowing them to ask the photographer for permission. This, of course, is a path to asking for payment for use of the picture.

And in a further bid to protect photographers' intellectual property, Photrade uses tools to make it difficult to steal photos without permission.

The financial aspect of Photrade is an embedded advertising system in which advertisers can link to contextually relevant photos. And in that case, a small text ad is embedded in the frame of the photo in a place that viewers can easily see but which doesn't interfere directly with the photo itself.

Photrade gives photographers a way to share their pictures and make some money from ad revenue in the process. Photrade

This, of course, is the revenue model. And while most photographers will never earn a penny with their work, those whose work attracts attention and advertisers could make out well on this service.

In that regard, Photrade is much like other stock photography sites, except that anyone can add any photos they want to the site, and the revenue comes from advertising, not just from publishers using their pictures.