Media outlets and marketers have been brought together with smartphone photographers, as Finnish start-up company, Scoopshot, allows its partners to search for and buy user-generated images without fears of breaking copyright issues.

Today anyone with a smartphone can contribute photos and videos of breaking news stories and brand experiences, and get paid for their work. The Scoopshot app is available on iOS, Android and Windows devices.

Photo verification, no waiting

Crowdsourcing is fast and rather than sending a photographer to cover an event, many media outlets are engaging their audience with community photos from smartphone photographers for every day or breaking news.

However, all photos used by media outlets still have to be verified for authenticity, which can take time. In order to help editors focus solely on the content, not the autentication, Scoopshot created a process to ensure that crowdsourced photographs can be published immediately.

"Transferring the images directly to the Scoopshot servers removes any possibility of image manipulation," said Petri Rahja, chief executive of Scoopshot.

"Every video and image uploaded by smartphone photographers is examined for its geographical location, exchangable image file format (EXIF) data and resolution. After that, the ID number and photographer’s name are embedded into the image", Rahja added.

Smartphone photographers can offer any image taken on their phone for sale to media outlets and advertisers. Depending on the photo subject, user-generated content can be sold for a high price.

"Individual photos can be sold for up to £5,000. One mobile photographer alone has earned over £17,000 by selling images to major media outlets", Rahja confirmed, adding that "all in all, almost £300,000 has been paid to Scoopshooters worldwide".

International brands search for user-generated photos

Sometimes publications and marketing agencies need a specific image for an article or a campaign and crowdsourcing has become an efficient way to acquire the photos fast.

Media outlets do not pay to look at the photos, they only purchase the one they want to use. The London Evening Standard, for instance, engages their readers and creates new content using Scoopshot’s crowdsourcing app.

London Evening Standard Scoopshot
An example of London Evening Standard's use of Scoopshot

"Publishers send specific assignments to a local, national or global pool of Scoopshooters, who then capture images and upload them", Rahja explained.

"Using the app is fast and easy for both parties while purchasing content which includes publishing and commercial rights allows publisher-created tasks to be sold to third parties".

In addition to the London Evening Standard, dozens of media brands, including WAZ, Daily Star, Tagesspeigel, News Corp Australia, Gannett, USA Today and Apple Daily, have run successful user-generated task campaigns.

"International brands, including Fiat, Finnair and Oxfam, have also used images purchased through Scoopshot in high-profile international campaigns", Rahja added.

User-generated content has huge implications during breaking news events in today’s era of 24/7 news coverage.

"During the UK floods earlier this year every major media outlet featured user-generated images, but how many editing hours were wasted verifying each individual image?

"There is clearly an appetite for verified content taken in real time, but many end-users in the UK have no way of monetising these images and the media have limited resources to verify them", Rahja said.

With over 500,000 users across 177 countries currently using the crowdsourcing app and over 70 major media outlets using the service to search for images and videos of breaking news stories and brands searching for images to use in advertising, Rahja predicts that by the end of this year, millions of users worldwide will utilise the Scoopshot app.

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