Tom Hanks likes to use Twitter to share the occasional on set photo with his 1.8 million followers. Now there is a site where those photos can be sent that allow him and other celebrities to have a new sense of control over their presence on social media.
People on Twitter can use services like TwitPic, Yfrog or Plixi to share photos with their friends and family. Celebrities have concerns with these services because they aquire ownership rights to uploaded photos and can place ads alongside them. Enter a new company called WhoSay that offers similar services, but ownership of uploaded images are retained by the stars themselves.
WhoSay has been up and running out of the Los Angeles office building of the Creative Artists Agency since last year. CAA represents an impressive list of famous names, including Hanks. His WhoSay site includes the words “copyright Tom Hanks” along with fine print at the bottom declaring his legal ownership of all content and a warning of “fines and imprisonment” for improper use.
There are 15 people on staff at WhoSay in offices in New York, London and Los Angeles. Creative Artists and Amazon.com are among investors in the company.
Kevin Spacey, Jim Carrey, John Cusack, Bill Maher, Johnny Knoxville, Chelsea Handler, Eva Longoria, Spike Lee, Enrique Iglesias and Katie Couric are a few of the names on WhoSay’s invitation only client list. The staff oversees celebrities photo and video hosting, ensures automated copyright branding and a private mobile app which loops in publicists and allows the celebrities’ Facebook and Twitter updates to be easily controlled .
WhoSay aims to change how celebrities behave online, by offering an outlet to manage and protect them, yet still the company will benefit off the stars activity on the social networks.
“We work with people who are constantly being utilized by third parties for the wrong reasons,” said a WhoSay representative. The company was created “to give celebrities and other influential people a set of tools to allow them to manage and control their presence in the digital world.”
WhoSay aims to protect stars from a repeat of a recent incident with services like Plixi, who brokered a deal to sell uploaded celebrity photos through a British news organization. “Celebrity traffic to our site represents 10 to 15 percent of all of our traffic,” said Sean Callahan, one founder of Plixi.com. “They help keep the service going and make it a profitable venture.”
Plixi quickly reversed the deal after being contacted directly by a very unhappy (unidentified by Plixi) celebrity.