"We come in where Twitter and Facebook and Instagram fail," said Petri Rahja, ScoopShot's CEO and founder. "You can't ever really be sure who owns the content on those platforms. Here it is always clear who is the rightful owner of the copyright is."
While marketers cannot purchase users' content on Facebook and Twitter, they often use the platforms as way to engage with consumers through campaigns. For example, they may ask their followers to post an image of a product along with a campaign hashtag. However, the marketers have no way of knowing if that image actually belongs to the user who posted it or if it has been altered.
ScoopShot, however, has a verification system that helps the photo buyer know the image they are purchasing is legitimate and was actually taken by the photographer who posted it.
While both other social networks have provisions that allow users to report copyright infringement, neither have a system that vets every photo for authenticity on the platform.
Read More Get ready for video ads in your Instagram feed
The Helsinki-based company also handles all the logistics associated with obtaining the rights of the images.
"We deal with all the rights transfer and the authenticity and really all the things that are challenging to handle," Rahja said. "It's like iTunes. You can buy a song, you can buy an image."
However, unlike iTunes, when you buy an image on ScoopShot there are two options. A user can purchase an image for onetime use or you can buy all the rights to it, so that it can be reproduced, he said. ScoopShot has an electronic model release built into its system so that the user gives the buyer a certificate to use the photo commercially.
The 3-year-old company officially opened up its platform to the masses last year and has grown to more than 600,000 users in 177 countries, Rahja said. The company was originally focused on targeting media clients to purchase the images on its platform, but has since broadened its reach to brands for marketing purposes as its user base has grown.
The company wouldn't share any financial data, but said the primary way it is making money is by charging media and brand clients a subscription fee to use its service and by charging buyer's a small transaction fee each time a marketer or media company purchases an image on its platform. It's also planning to launch new revenue streams in the coming months that it cannot yet disclose, Rahja said.
ScoopShot isn't the only company experimenting with ways to cash in on crowdsourced photos. Other start-ups like Sweden-based Foap and EyeEm, which is headquartered in Germany, are both trying to make money off users' smartphone pics while also streamlining the licensing process.
Still, ScoopShot said it is already getting some big wins. Brands including Heineken, Finnair and Fiat all use the platform for campaigns by posting a task on the site, which is basically the equivalent of a photo assignment. The brand names the price it is willing to pay for the images for its campaign and users can decide if they want to participate or not. The brand then can choose which images it would like to purchase.
ScoopShot charges brands $1,500 for tasks to reach its worldwide user base.