Fireside chat with Image Protect Founder and CPO, Jonathan Thomas


On July 26, 2018, we had the pleasure of hosting a live chat on Telegram with founder and CPO of Image Protect, Jonathan Thomas. The community submitted great questions and we’re happy to provide a clean transcript of the interactive fireside chat.

Hi, Jonathan! Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with us today.
Will you tell us a little about yourself?

I have a degree in motion picture production. I come from the old school of pre-digital photography. I still process film, but have embraced the digital age. I build my own lenses based on pre-digital photography, which I attach to my digital cameras. I also love to explore alternative film processing techniques and apply them to digital photography. You can see some of my work on my Instagram channel.

I live on the beach in San Clemente California, but spend a few months each year in south Italy with my family. I love Hiking, Dogs, Art and Movies.

As a founding member of Image Protect, what was the idea or motivation behind launching this service?

Copyright infringements. 90% of the infringements we find cannot be monetized. We can only send a take down notice to remove the image from the webpage. It’s not a very cooperative environment. With IPShare, we ask the publisher to replace the stolen image with a better version of the image that contains in-image advertisements and links to a decentralized marketplace.

We have created a huge ad network and marketplace for purchasing stock photo licenses and framed prints directly from the image. This is a win-win for both the creator and the publisher who share in the ad revenue and don’t have the stress of dealing with stolen images. Basically we needed to find a way to monetize a huge amount of infringements that otherwise had to be removed.

In your opinion, what is the greatest obstacle that Image Protect faces today?

Scaling quickly and effectively. We know exactly what we want to build, and the correct hires, technology is key.

How about the greatest success?  Image Protect
Within four years, Image Protect has gone from a Silicon Beach start-up to a thriving organization with 55 million images from over 450k photographers (that’s right, 450,000+), and 40+ Media agencies from across the globe. Even though it was little more than just a concept in 2017, we launched IPShare™ this week and are replacing images on 5 million websites.

In working with the Image Protect team, there seems to be quite a mix of hard work and fun. What would you say makes your team special?

We love what we do, and we love working with each other. Everyone on the team contributes to the vision and the success of our clients. We work hard, but then let loose with Mini Muffin Monday, Margaritas on Tuesday, Wicked hangovers on Wednesday, Togas on Thursday, and so on until the weekend. It’s neverending mayhem around here.

What makes Image Protect different from projects like KodakOne or Copytrack?

KodakOne and Copytrack both protect a photographer’s copyright through web crawling and image recognition, post licensing and copyright lawsuits of commercial infringements. This only applies to about 10% of all of the uses they find. The remaining 90% cannot be monetized and must be removed through DMCA takedown notices, or ignored.

Copytrack also registers images on the blockchain as proof of ownership.

Image Protect is a growing community of content creators with a huge passion for transforming the way artists protect their online content and how they get paid for it. We’ve recently created an embeddable image format, IPShare™, that is shareable, trackable, and most importantly, monetized with in-image advertising.

Our platform uses reverse search and image recognition to automatically discover and replace images online with the same or higher quality IPShare™  formatted image. 100% of the infringements we find are now monetized.
This creates a large advertising network from which our creators profit from ad revenue generated from the use of their images online. The image also can be licensed for stock photography and/or a framed print directly from links placed within the images. Essentially, we are creating a decentralized marketplace run on blockchain.

Photo protection is very difficult. People copy and paste images all the time. Aren’t watermarks a lot easier?

Nobody uses a watermark, because it covers the image. When you post an image online you want to see the entire image, not image image blocked by a waterwark. There are hidden watermarks, but this doesn’t stop people from stealing the image. With IPShare we allow the image to be shared, because the more it is shared, the more it can be monetized. We also can track each embed and share of the image, so the creator know exactly where and how the image are are being used.

Obviously you’re going to say that the IMAGE tokens are going to be a good investment, but can you tell us WHY people want to invest?

Utilizing blockchain technology allows real peer-to-peer transactions between creators and publishers – ensuring security, authenticity and most of all, transparency for the artist. It is a win-win for the creator and the publisher who both share the ad revenue. I also love the recurring monthly income we will be generating for our creators with our ad network. Additionally, our IMAGE token will pay 10% of all revenue to the token holders.

Just to backtrack a little bit, because of our technology, Recurring Income is another key difference between Image Protect versus KodakOne and Copytrack.

Why is the blockchain necessary for your project? What are the advantages which solutions (both existing and ideal) can’t obtain without a distributed environment?

Blockchain is central to our success. We are creating a large ad network that requires transparency. We are also creating a very large decentralized marketplace where each image will contain links to purchase a stock photo license for the image and/or purchase a print for framing.

Each transaction will be recorded through smart contracts on the blockchain. Additionally, all historical licensing data will be stored and link to uses we find when crawling the Web. Creators will now have access to licensing data that previous was not available to them in the current environment. We want to make sure each creator gets paid for their work.

Can you explain how Image Protect works from a photographer’s perspective? 

From a photographers perspective: Our platform uses reverse search and image recognition to automatically discover and replace images online with the same or higher quality IPShare™ formatted image.

We’ve made it difficult, and sometimes impossible to download and/or screen grab the image. But, we’ve made easy to share the image through social channels and/or through the embed code. The more it is shared, the more it can be monetized.

Can you further explain how the IPShare technology works?

Sure! IPShare is an embeddable image format much like a YouTube video. Once an image is converted to the IPShare format, the publisher copies the link or embed code and ads it to their webpage or blog posts.

The image is never in their possession and remains on the Image Protect servers. We then monetize the image with in-image advertisement and marketplace links. The creator and publisher both share in the ad revenue generated by that image on the webpage or blog post. It is a win-win for everyone.

We then monetize the image with a in-image advertisement and marketplace links. The creator and publisher both share in the ad revenue generated by that image on the webpage or blogpost. As I recently mentioned, it’s nearly impossible to screen grab the image but we’ve made easy to share the image through social channels and/or through the embed code.

You gave us insight into the photographer’s perspective for photo protection and monetization. How about a view from an investor’s perspective?

So, from an investor’s prospective: The more an image is shared, the more it can be monetized.The more it is monetized, the more revenue will be available as a dividend to the IMAGE token. It is a win-win for everyone.

Please explain how Image Protect is going to stop piracy.

IPShare will not stop piracy, but it does make it unnecessary by making the infringer an influencer or collaborator. IPShare was built to be shared. By making it shareable as an embeddable format, in most cases, it doesn’t need to be stolen. The publisher only needs to copy the image link or embed code and add it to their webpage. Additionally, because we share a percentage of the ad revenue with the publisher, they benefit from not stealing it.

July, 2018 is history and Image Protect is now in the presale 3 phase before the official launch of the public token sale in September. How much are you hoping to raise and what are the funds being used for? 

We are raising $12.5m, but we are positioned to scale for less if need be. The more we raise the quicker we can scale.

From which exchanges will IMAGE token be available?

We are in discussions with multiple exchanges, but are in contractual negotiations with Open Finance Network.

Would you say that IMAGE tokens are a long-term investment? That’s to say, if I HODL, is there a reasonable expectation that I will receive residual income in the next few years?

Absolutely! IMAGE tokens should be held long term. If we meet our projected revenue targets, you will receive residual income as well as increased coin value.

Can this technology be applied to video content or other media?

Yes. For video, think YouTube. YouTube is exactly who we had in mind when creating IPShare. The difference is IPShare is decentralized and our images are worldwide. Regarding other media, we are researching applications for VR, AR and live streaming of events.

Will your image recognition software have the ability to license for print media too?

Each IPShare converted image will have a link to license a jpeg for commercial internet use, as well as an option to purchase a print, or framed print. Kind of like going to to buy framed art.

Is there any other news or insights that you can share with our Image Protect community tonight?

We have launched IPShare and are in the process of converting images on 5 million websites. We hope to have this completed in the next couple of months. This will create a very large ad network for us to monetize. We are in discussions with another blockchain adtech company, who has a $1 million of excess ad inventory for our newly created network.

Wow, that’s super, Jonathan! Last question before we let you go.

If there was one super client or strategic partnership you could develop within the IP-sphere, who would it be?

Apple. We are working to make the IPShare image format a native format on the phone. When you post a photo to social media or a webpage you will be given to option to upload jpeg or IPShare. IPShare will contain advertising and marketplace links in which you will share in the revenue. Imagine making monthly recurring revenue from any images you post online!

I hope Tim Cook is reading this!

You and me both.



Special thanks to, founder and CPO, Jonathan Thomas for spending an hour to interact with our growing Telegram community. Follow him on LinkedIn.

Bookmark the Image Protect website for links to our white paper and social media connections.

For an example of IPShare technology, visit our blog Interview with Photographer Steven Lake