Ever get an email asking you to pay a fine for using a copyrighted image from some big website? Have companies like Copytrack, Pixsy or Picrights threatened you? In this article I will explain why you should be unconcerned about copyright notices on some websites.
Beware of Copyright Trolls
A copyright troll is someone who uses the legal system to extract money from individuals or companies, threatening them with lawsuits for copyright infringement.
These copyright trolls often send mass cease and desist letters demanding payment, with no intention of actually litigating the claim.
Copyright trolls have been criticized for taking advantage of the legal system and harming the interests of those they target. Some copyright trolls have been successfully sued for their abusive practices.
The term “copyright troll” is generally used to describe those who engage in this type of activity, although some copyright holders may send legitimate claims letters seeking to resolve an infringement issue without going to court.
There are a number of ways that copyright trolls operate. Some copyright trolls buy copyrights from other companies or individuals, and then use that copyright to send copyright claim letters. Others will file lawsuits against alleged infringers, even if they have no intention of actually pursuing the case in court.
Copyright trolls often target small businesses and individuals who may not have the resources to defend themselves in court. This may result in the resolution of cases that would otherwise be decided in favor of the alleged offender.
If you've received a letter via email or in your mail from companies like CopyTrack and Picrights, know that there are several forms of defense available to you, and an experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal process. Or rather, it doesn't even have to come to that!
These trolls are relentless. They don't care whether or not you own the image. They will keep harassing you and threatening you. Unfortunately, it all comes down to how much harassment you are willing to take.
List of Copyright Trolls companies
Below is a list of possible companies in the scheme of threatening and extorting money from small websites for using image rights:
- Picture Protection Service;
It is worth making it clear that these companies are verified, they can have lawyers and they can file lawsuits, but most of the time they don't do it because it's not feasible. We are not defaming companies.
Can I be sued for Image use?
Yes, you can be sued for image usage, but things are not so simple. Most foreign offices that threaten image use do not usually file any lawsuits, as this costs more than the profit they can make.
If you are actually sued, look for a good lawyer so you can make a deal that is really fair. Try to prove that your website doesn't generate enough to cause the damage lawyers are claiming.
At the end of the article you will still see some tips on how to deal with the process. Perhaps prolonging it will make the other party in question give up. Try to show your innocence.
Copytrack, Pixsy and Picrights sue you without having rights
Both companies are legitimate and possibly have lawyers. The big problem is that until today I haven't seen reports of people who were actually sued by these companies.
There are, yes, sites that hire companies and lawyers that actually file lawsuits against other sites that use their image. In these cases, if the contact is local, the risk of a lawsuit is much higher.
The big problem with sites like Copytrack, Pixsy and Picrights is that usually their users and members simply have access to a portal where they can upload any photo and claim to be the author of it.
With the photo in the company's database, the robot starts scouring the internet for other sites that use the images sent. If the author of the site authorizes, the company begins to send emails to extort the owners of that site.
That is, you are often notified for using an image that is not even copyrighted. Even if it has, perhaps the process website is not the real author of it.
Their system is so flawed that if you want to sue companies like Facebook or other content aggregators, they just ignore it and can't even send subpoenas to these big sites.
If the site does not respond, the platform itself encourages you to give up the process. You can rest assured that their goal is to make money from settlements without going to court.
The photographers discovered a scheme to sue people. They release images on the internet and keep an eye on it, wait for a number of people to use it, and then file a lawsuit against them.
For this reason, it is always important after receiving a subpoena to check if the image in question is older than the original.
How to avoid being sued for copyright?
When purchasing a domain, enable its privacy so that your details such as address and email do not appear. Be careful with your CPNJ on your page, leave it in an unknown location, as images and their data are often found automatically through robots.
Avoid using copyrighted images. Always use usage filters to find images on Google, or check if the image is available on various web-sites.
Another thing you can do is keep your website images on a public CDN like Jetpack. Try to make it difficult for them to access the image link on your server so they can't prove that your domain is using the image.
What if I receive an Email from Copytrack, Picrights or Pixsy?
Keep calm, don't reply, just mark as spam, block and ignore. If they really want to file a lawsuit, they need to contact you at your address and not your email.
If they sue even after you didn't respond to their emails, which is very unlikely to happen, you can simply claim that you didn't respond exactly because of the reputation of a Copyright Troll.
Also check the images in question, see if they are not available on other internet sites. In a lawsuit you can claim that such an image is being used on hundreds of websites, and none of them have been sued.
You can claim that content aggregator sites like Amino and social networks circulate the image without any hindrance, and nothing has been done against them. Try to prove that you weren't aware of the copyright of an image, as it was circulating on major internet portals.
Removing the image can be a great start! The Court needs to see that you are willing to comply with copyright laws, and that the company has treated you abusively by trying to extort you.
You can claim that the website in question has no right to sue you for the use of the image, only the photographer of the image in question. There are several arguments to be used in court.
Conclusion and Checklist
Below I will leave a summary of what you should do when you receive an email demanding money for using an image:
- Leave your domain private;
- Use an image CDN and avoid accessing the image on the server;
- Do not use copyrighted images;
- Do not reply to emails from CopyTrack, Pixsy and Picrights;
- Remove the mentioned images;
- Make sure you have the real rights to the image;
- If you are subpoenaed, get a good lawyer;
- Don't despair, the process may never occur;
- Leave the court in your favor;