One of the challenges of capturing and sharing live images of important (or even just funny) events with your phone's camera is that, by the time it's circulated on Twitter or Facebook more than a few times, it's probably lost proper attribution. That may not be out of malice, but as the retweets become copied-and-pasted URLs, eventually the name of the original photographer gets lost, and all that remains is an iconic image that appears to have materialized on Twitter from the ether.
That's something that the creators of Tagg.ly—a small team that includes Vice reporter Tim Pool and developers Isaac Phillips and Krutika Harale—have set out to change. Pool's work has taken him to dangerous and difficult parts of the world, capturing images that many are interested in but few are able to capture. Tagg.ly is a one-click solution to retaining credit for those images—users open the app on their phones, input their names, and allow for location and timestamping (or not—users can switch location and time on and off if they are sharing info from precarious situations), and have the option of uploading a logo. Every image taken through the app then automatically comes tagged with the proper watermarking.
Phillips told Motherboard that the app is available and has already been used by citizen journalists during protests in Istanbul. He said: "We're very excited, and we want to make a difference. We're not concerned with making money right now, although we hope to do that in the future. But the first step is to make a difference and provide a tool that social-media influencers will use. I think this is a space that both Tim and I are interested in and committed to long term, so we're going to be building out this app into a suite for the mobile media of tomorrow."
Of course, such watermarking can still be cropped out by someone who aims to actively steal the photographer's work—but that's another problem for another day. In the meantime, a solution for the accidental erasure of credit and attribution for a photographer's work is a good start.